This summer hasn’t felt much like a relaxing break due to the global pandemic. Hopefully this will change for the people in Kentucky as the pools reopened this past week. The Kentucky health department is requiring full pool inspections this year before any pool can be open to the public. This has allowed some pools to open on the projected date of June 29, but there are still an estimated 350 pools waiting to be inspected.
The Falling Rock Park La Grange quarry reopened in early June. This is a natural water-filled site that is known as a popular diving and swimming spot for people 18 and over. According to their website, they have made several changes due to COVID-19. They are selling tickets online to ensure that they do not go over their new lowered capacity limit. This is also a way to modify the heavy traffic that they would normally get during a regular season. To limit the spread of germs, the facility will not be providing chairs, grills, or picnic tables to the patrons. The Quarry at this time is operating at 33 percent capacity and is open Friday-Sunday.
It may be all fun and games for the people going to the pool, but what does this mean for the athletic swimmers, lifeguards, and other pool staff returning?
“I was a little nervous but I was excited to see people,” Paisley Simmons said after she returned to work on Monday at the Plainview Swim Center in Louisville.
After Simmons had spent four months in quarantine with her family, she decided to go back to work her fourth summer as a lifeguard.
“I was more nervous about the patrons and making sure everything was set up right and personally getting sick,” she said.
In order for pools to open up, they must comply or follow to their best abilities the guidelines Gov. Andy Beshear created. For Plainview pool that means following their new capacity limit of 265 people, creating a contactless payment system, and modifying their cleaning schedule. This includes Lifeguards checking bathrooms and wiping down handrails every 15 to 30 minutes.
The pool is also requiring that their entire staff wears masks and keeps a reasonable distance away from patrons.
“While the lifeguards are in the chair, they do not have to wear the mask. But once they get out of the chair, we are asking them to wear their mask as they walk around, especially if they are talking to patrons,” Simmons said.
It is optional for public swimming and bathing facilities to require visitors to wear face masks when they are not in the water. Plainview pool is not requiring the patrons to wear masks, although a lot of them are wearing them anyway, Simmons said.
When she is not clocked in at work, Simmons is usually practicing or staying in shape for the diving team. She had been competitively diving for five years before receiving a scholarship in 2017 to dive at Sewanee College in Tennessee. The swim and dive teams' communication with coaches has remained strong during this uncertain time due to the pandemic. There are still no official plans set yet for her 2020-2021 swim and dive season.
Even with these changes and precautions taken by pool facilities and their staff, it is up to the pool patrons on if they are going to take these new regulations seriously or not. Patrons must respect their environment and the people around them, which means they must be aware of their health and maintain a six feet distance away from people they are not related to in and out of the pool. Please keep in mind that COVID-19 is still a serious and relevant problem within the U.S.
See all the guidelines that Gov. Andy Beshear and his team have created for the pools and workers: https://govsite-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/XdeUr0qQQ9eZWviDXMFF_2020-6-16%20-%20HaW%20-%20Swimming%20and%20Bathing%20Reqs%20-%20Final%201.0.pdf