Two things were inevitable after Americans were asked to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus: Youngsters would spend more time outside with their friends and parents would spend more time on Facebook.
Sure enough, exchanges among parents in large social media groups are increasing over the wisdom of large teen gatherings.
It flared Wednesday in one of the dwindling number of North Jersey municipalities where public parks have remained open amid the pandemic.
It was two days earlier that President Trump, speaking with alarming concern, asked the nation to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10.
So it upset some parents in one Bergen County town to see large groups of youngsters hanging out, walking around and playing basketball.
The situation only got worse when other parents defended it.
“Kids playing outside and we have an issue makes me giggle,” one wrote.
“This is out of control, let the kids play. They are stuck in the house all day,” another insisted. “This whole ‘social distancing’ thing is absolutely absurd.
“This mentality of locking yourself in the house, not socializing with others is absurd. I’m not buying into this pandemic," she continued. "It’s a virus. Most people recover from [it] just like the flu. And to suggest you call the police because kids are outside playing basketball? Absolutely sickening.”
The reaction left some parents dumbfounded.
“You are literally why we will all have to make devastating sacrifices for months instead of weeks,” one mother wrote. “The irony is utterly breathtaking.”
“Would you like to come to work with me?” a nurse added. “I will gladly give you a seat in the ER. Pretty sure you will want your ‘distance’ then.”
“This is exactly what happened in Italy after they closed the schools. Big gatherings, people partying, people going on spring break and heading to the beaches. And the coronavirus exploded. Read the news much?"
“Do you want to be in lockdown until the fall? If we don’t make sacrifices now, it will take longer to get under control and more people will get seriously ill/perhaps die.”
“I was like you until I read and got informed. Now it’s day 3, I’d love to go back to work or meet friends for lunch, go shopping for something other than food or toilet paper, but I won’t. Why? Because I want this damn thing over so I can go back to my life! They didn’t close schools so kids can play basketball. Let one of those kids get sick and now they infected others who will bring it home to their families.”
“No school, no sports, no plays, no proms, no graduations for the foreseeable future, everything shut down, potential billions lost in the economy with an impact to be felt for a long time, but let the kids play? What, then, is the point of all of the sacrifices so many others are having to make?”
“I've banned my son from the street hockey rink, I'm not his favorite person right now but tough boogies for him... He can shoot in the driveway...”
Meanwhile, in another Bergen town:
“All our kids are suffering not socializing with kids. It’s an inconvenience, not the end of the world. I think this is a perfect opportunity to teach our children why this is so important and to have some care and compassion for the people who will not be able to fight this virus. This will too pass, sooner if everyone complies."
"In the grand scheme of things, lives are just more important than kids playing in a park right now.”
The naysayers weren’t deterred.
“If it is not your kid, then don’t worry about it. There has to be something else for you to do then monitor what other children are doing,” one wrote.
“Personally I think it is completely acceptable for kids to be out playing. Everyone is stuck in there house all day,” another chimed in. “If it is your kid, you are allowed to tell them what to do and not to do. If it is not your kid, stay out of it.
“If you don’t want to deal with it, stay in your house and watch a movie, or maybe bake some cookies. But to sit on your phone and yell at kids who are just trying to have some fun is very immature. So excuse me while I go outside and play with my friends.”
During the bickering, someone finally contacted local police.
They visited the parks and explained to the boys that they needed to be in groups no larger than 10 and should keep a six-foot distance from one another.
Local officials were planning to discuss what to do next on Thursday.
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