AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin city pools are expected to open in June, according to a memo from the Austin Parks and Recreation Department sent May 22, but youth summer programs will be delayed and altered from their original plans.
Pool reopening depends on having enough trained staff, and PARD says it hopes to announce more specific reopening plans in the coming weeks. There will be new cleaning procedures in place, and the number of people allowed in will be limited.
It said some lifeguards started training this week. It’s had 250 lifeguards hired for a few months, but because of a city hiring freeze hasn’t been able to hire more. PARD has not said how many openings it still has. A KXAN report from March noted the department had hoped to hire 750 lifeguards by May.
PARD said summer programs will be at about 50% capacity of a typical summer and will begin July 6 to allow it to train staff and prepare facilities. All paid summer camps will be refunded because the program PARD plans to offer “no longer resembles the program that was originally advertised.” It will also not offer specialty camps.
However, it will offer free and modified camps to Austin residents with 26 to 24 campers per day. These will take place at 20 locations, most of which are in the eastern crescent, PARD said. Registration for these will be announced in June.
PARD will continue to offer all-day camp for children of essential workers.
PARD said it used Centers for Disease Control and local health authority guidelines, in addition to industry recommendations to help it develop its plan for summer. Those include having two staff members for every eight children and keeping groups of kids separated from one another.
Employees will be responsible for new disinfecting protocols and will learn how to enforce social distancing.
The City hasn’t finalized how the registration process works or when it will begin.
Many parents and grandparents in Austin fondly recalled theirs and their children’s experience at summer camp.
“I think we are feeling more optimistic,” said Tony and Alison Aiello. “If it’s well organized, I think at some point you have to start moving forward.”
“Everyone is going crazy! They need to get out and do things,” said Steve Sorenson.