The YMCA of Middle Tennessee plans to begin opening outdoor pools in mid-June. It’s one of the largest operators of pools in the region, with 60 pools and water features across more than a dozen sites.
There’s not much concern about germs spreading in chlorinated water. The trouble is keeping people apart outside the pool. So as the Centers for Disease Control recommends, the YMCA will place social distance monitors poolside.
“We are planning for additional staff to be on pool decks to monitor that behavior so that that is not responsibility of a lifeguard,” says Jessica Fain, chief strategy officer.
The YMCA also plans to have people cleaning pool chairs regularly.
“It’ll be an adjustment for everyone, just like everything we’re doing,” she says. “You can think, ‘Is it practical?’ But not much we’re doing is practical.”
Whether or when the pools will reopen is the top question from YMCA members, Fain says. So the nonprofit wanted to find a way. Indoor pools, except in Davidson County, will reopen next week, as allowed by state guidelines that govern all but six large counties.
Davidson County has not yet lifted restrictions on pools.
And Metro Parks still hasn’t decided whether to open its pools and splash pads at all this summer. They, along with the YMCA, are participating in a community webinar Thursday afternoon about how families should navigate summer activities. (This is the Webex webinar link.)
Williamson County reopened indoor pools this week, but only for lap swimmers. And outdoor pools still have no date for opening. Murfreesboro has similarly allowed some indoor lap swimming but has not scheduled an opening for outdoor pools.
Tennessee State Parks were some of the first places to reopen in recent weeks, but they have largely opted to keep pools closed this year, except for a few that are connected to lodges.
“This decision was made with the health of our visitors and our staff in mind,” state parks spokesperson Kim Schofinski tells WPLN News in an email. “Public pools present unique challenges that make social distancing difficult and create potential for unnecessary risk in life-saving situations. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope visitors take advantage of other summer activities at our parks.”