LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It is far from swimming pool weather, but Louisville is making plans to open its public pools despite the pandemic.
Metro Parks is planning to open all four public pools on Memorial Day weekend.
“The need is for children to be able to use the pools,” Aquatics Supervisor Keith Smith said. “Right now, kids need something to do.”
Metro Parks has not been able to open all its pools on a full-time basis for two years. In 2019, budget cuts kept most public pools dry. In 2020, COVID-19 prevented them from opening until late summer and, even then, only two or three days a week.
The plan for 2021 is to operate on a near-normal schedule, and leaders are optimistic, but it all depends on inspections on the pools to ensure safety and that no repairs are needed.
But there is another challenge.
“We need lifeguards,” Smith said.
Metro Parks needs to hire at least 24 lifeguards, and Smith said it will not be easy to do.
“A lot of people still don't know how to take COVID,” he said.
Some may be wary of being a lifeguard during a pandemic. Smith said all safety protocols are being followed, including allowing swimmers in by appointment only in order to maintain social distancing.
“We're following every guideline that we can to make everybody safe, and that's the main thing,” he said.
Smith hopes the restrictions will ease as the summer progresses.
“As more and more get the vaccine, hopefully we can see more and more restrictions lifted, that we can have more people in the pool,” Smith said.
Dr. SaraBeth Hartlage, the medical director of the Metro Health department, said the public pool forecast for summer is still cloudy.
“I think it's like everything else, it's going to kind of depend on our vaccine supply and how many shots we can get in arms, what that percentage looks like,” Hartlage said.
In the meantime, the clock is ticking for getting lifeguards on the payroll.
“We try to have all our lifeguards hired by the first of May,” Smith said.
Lifeguards must be al least 16 years old and pass a skills test. To view the schedule for the free lifeguard training classes, click here.
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