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Community Update on Aquatics Operations

Deerfield Park District
COVID-19 Community Update on Aquatics Operations
JUNE 15, 2020

As the district navigated and planned future operations over the last three months, our staff was continually developing models based on potential scenarios and allowances through local, state and national agency guidelines. The operation of swimming pools was rarely addressed by these agencies until recently.

The only state guidelines the district had to work from were from the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity office, which explicitly directed that swimming pools should be closed until further notice. Recommendations and guidelines from other entities filtered through and had common elements that no splashpads, play features or diving areas could be opened. By utilizing that information, our staff began creating operational models for district pools. The models focused on the possibility to open both pools and considered staffing needs to operate two pools and meeting known protocols and guidelines such as minimizing common touch areas, frequency of sanitizing areas, distancing requirements and overall potential capacity of visitors.

Those models were shared with the Park Board of Commissioners over the last few months and received support to try and operate two pools. Noteworthy is the most expansive model to operate both pools still presented obstacles in full operation based on staffing. The district requires a minimum of 70-80 guards to operate both pools efficiently and provide all features at both pools for use. Staff recruitment was ongoing, though the commitment stayed at 55 guards. That number currently remains at 55. In addition, with the staff levels needed not only to lifeguard but to ensure social distancing is practiced we would not have the additional staff to operate both pools.

Throughout the planning process, our staff kept the Park Board informed that the longer we await guidelines, the likelihood of opening both pools diminished as it takes time and resources to prepare two pools for opening. Start dates were delayed due to awaiting state guidelines to a point in time where we had to decide on aquatics for the 2020 season. Weighing all the factors associated with opening the pools, our staff informed the Park Board that opening only one outdoor pool in 2020 was the safest option.

Mitchell Pool was selected as the pool to open based on many factors. The factors include:

  • The entry/exit area into the facility provides minimal common touch areas.
  • The pool offers zero-depth entry/exit which is more accommodating for all ages.
  • The facility layout provides much more space to meet social distancing requirements.
  • The pool has a larger bather load number than Deerspring which could result in the ability to accommodate more people.
  • The pool provides improved accessibility for ADA requirements.

Known provisions at Mitchell Pool will include swim lessons, Coho Swim Team practice and lap swimming which are all permitted under recently released Phase 3 guidelines. Open swim availability will be based on Phase 4 guidelines which have yet to be released. Our staff has prepared multiple scenarios in anticipation of these guidelines. Information on Phase 3 programs will be posted soon. Once we have clearance to finalize open swim opportunities, more information on that program will be posted as well.

We understand that there is always going to be a desire to operate both pools in the community in typical times. These are not typical times. We also hope that you understand that the provision of one pool operating this summer does provide an opportunity to enjoy another summer activity.

Stay safe and be well.