With summer break approaching, Dripping Springs has started looking for staff for a potential pool season during the coronavirus pandemic.
While the city has not decided if the pool will open this summer, staff presented City Council a list of regulations it would put in place if directed to open the Founders Memorial Park Pool, located at 27900 RR 12, Dripping Springs. According to the recommendations, the pool would not open until June 29 at the earliest.
Kelly Schmidt, the city's parks and community service director, said that she does not think she would take her children to a public pool this summer, but that the recommendations being made would be the safest way possible to open.
“Based on my personal and professional opinion, I feel at this time there are so many unknowns [regarding the coronavirus]," she said. "I think there are just too many variables that we don't have a handle on."
Schmidt said, however, that the city has received multiple calls asking about the pool’s status and that it should try its best to work towards opening safely.
"I think the challenge as a recreation and parks professional is that people need recreation and relief now more than ever, and that's where the struggle is,” she said. “With that kind of pressure and desire and desperation from patrons and community members, it's kind of hard not to figure out the safest way we can possibly operate this pool."
Regulations proposed by the city are based on the latest guideline released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and include:
- Limiting use to four two-hour swim sessions each day for preregistered guests;
- Reserving one session for lap swimming only;
- Sanitizing the pool area and facility for 30 minutes between each session;
- Limiting sessions to 25 guests or fewer;
- Removing deck furniture and offering limited picnic table seating;
- Keeping locker rooms and showers closed;
- Requiring social distancing between guests;
- Requiring staff to wear masks when interacting with guests and disinfecting; and
- Prohibiting children under age 15 from using the pool without a parent or guardian being present.
Mayor Bill Foulds said a decision to open may not come until later this month or in June but that the city should prepare for an opening, even if it means spending money to train staff that may not get used. Compared to local community-run pools, he said, the city’s pool could be the safest option for residents.
"A lot of residents won't want to go to those subdivision pools, and if we can offer them something where we are at least doing something to minimize the risk, we're letting people get outside," he said. "I'd like to see some form of reopening and let it be known we're doing the best we can."