Whether the Blair Municipal Pool will open for the summer remains uncertain, according to City Administrator Rod Storm.
Gov. Pete Ricketts issued a new Directed Health Measure last month allowing swimming pools to open June 1 at 25 percent capacity. However, Storm said the city is awaiting more information from the governor's office on the requirements for opening.
“It's not just a matter of we can open the pool, put water in it and everyone go jump in,” he said. “We've got to maintain the standards for the state for safe operations under normal conditions, let alone what's required to be able to potentially operate with the potential threat of COVID-19.”
Storm said the city has been working with the Blair Family YMCA, which manages the pool, to determine if it is financially feasible to open the pool for the season.
The biggest issue, Storm said, is hiring lifeguards, many of whom are college students and may have already obtained other employment. Certification of those who served as lifeguards last year will run out in June. Recertification classes, typically held in March or April, have not been held due to the pandemic.
“I emphasize that is the big issue right now,” Storm said. “Can you secure enough lifeguards? And you can't just hire anybody. They must be trained through the American Red Cross and have their certificates through the state health department that oversees the use of the pool.”
Storm said the city could consider opening the pool to operate on a partial schedule if enough lifeguards were hired.
“Hopefully by (this) week, (YMCA officials will) have an idea of where they are at with lifeguards,” Storm said. “It will be process.”
The other issue, Storm said, is that many of the universities and colleges have announced they plan to start the school year earlier than normal, which would mean a loss of lifeguards.
“That's going to naturally shorten the season from what it normally would be,” he said.
If everything falls into place, Storm said the pool could open sometime between June 15 and 20 at the earliest.