BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — The City of Beckley announced on Monday, May 18, 2020 they will keep the public pools closed for the entire summer of 2020. The reason for the decision was due to the unpredictable future of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Director of Parks and Recreation Leslie Baker stated the illness presents unique challenges for managing pools. These include confined spaces which prevent proper social distancing and the need for lifeguards to have close contact with pool users and the potential for unnecessary risk in life saving situations.
“Normally this is the most exciting time of the year for my Department – we are gearing up to open the pools and getting ready to start all of our summer programs so this is so sad and very disappointing,” said Baker.
According to a release from the Parks and Recreation Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found no evidence COVID-19 can be spread through properly treated pool water. However there is a concern the virus could be spread in bathhouses, restrooms, pool ladders, slides and pool lounge chairs.
Baker added that opening the pools for a shortened season would have been problematic for lifeguard training issues. The lifeguards are trained by the YMCA, which is also closed due to the pandemic.
“Social distancing will be with us through the summer to really ensure that we protect one another. We maintain our swimming pools to be safe and fun places for families to spend time, but we’re dealing with a pandemic with a lot of unknowns. This decision is about a trade-off of our kids having a fun place to spend their summer afternoons or potentially saving lives in our community,” Baker adds. “While swimming pools are a quality of life issue, they are unfortunately outweighed at this time by COVID-19, which, in the long run, is a much larger life issue.”
The city pools in Beckley include New River Park and the Historic Black Knight.