The coronavirus pandemic put a stop to a number of annual events in 2020, including a regular pool season — but some Johnson County cities are preparing to open their pools in 2021.
Johnson County’s current pandemic health order, which lays out social distancing guidelines and limits gathering sizes among other things, expires on March 31.
Although it’s not clear if the order will be extended beyond that — and what that would mean for the 2021 pool season — some cities in northeast Johnson County are already starting to prepare to open pools this summer.
“We think we are in a good position to give it a go this year,” said Brice Soeken, parks and recreation director for Fairway, during a Feb. 8 city council meeting meeting. “We are very excited and very optimistic that we are going to have a pool season — not sure what it’s going to look like 100% yet, but we are very excited.”
Here’s a look at where several Johnson County cities currently stand on opening their pools for the 2021 season:
- The parks and recreation staff is currently working to hire and train lifeguards, according to city documents.
- Johnson County Department of Health and Environment officials have given the city guidance on training lifeguards with COVID-19 involved, including social distancing and mandatory mask wearing when not in water.
- Logan Wagler, the city’s parks and recreation director, said Lenexa “intends to offer outdoor swimming opportunities” for residents.
- Lenexa is hiring and training lifeguards, and plans to open all three outdoor pools this summer, Wagler said.
- The city did open and safely operate one outdoor pool during summer 2020.
- Currently advertising for lifeguard positions. If enough staff can be hired, the city says it will be able to train and prepare them as required by the county’s COVID-19 restrictions.
- The city will continue to collect and evaluate data in the coming weeks before presenting a final plan and recommendation to the city council, City Administrator Laura Smith said.
- Smith also said if the pool does open, it’s likely that there will be a reservation system in place.
- Plans to open its indoor pool when the county’s executive health order is lifted, and to open the outdoor pool for the 2021 season as long as the order isn’t extended, Parks and Recreation Director Anna Slocum said.
- Lifeguard recruitment is ongoing, Slocum said, but training is currently limited.
- The city’s indoor pool was briefly opened in October 2020, a majority of staff was retrained, she said.
- Parks and Recreation Director Jermel Stevenson said Overland Park is targeting early spring, possibly April or May, to make a definitive decision on opening pools.
- The city plans to hire and train lifeguards to prepare for the season, Stevenson said.
- Plans are also being put in place to open Matt Ross Community Center’s indoor pool as well as Young’s Pool and the Tomahawk Ridge Pool, Stevenson said.
- City officials are hopeful they’ll be able to open the city pool in some capacity for 2021.
- Hiring for the upcoming season is already underway, though recruiting and training lifeguards is a challenge even during non-pandemic years — so the city is expecting it to be “a significant hurdle,” said Meghan Buum, assistant city administrator.
- The city is playing a wait and see game to anticipate possibilities and outcomes before coming to a definitive decision on the pool’s opening, Buum said. An update will be given to the city council during the Feb. 16 meeting.
- Over the next few weeks, Roeland Park’s aquatics advisory committee will discuss an operating plan and timeline to present a recommendation to the city council, Parks and Recreation Superintendent Tony Nichols said.
- The hiring process fore lifeguards will open the week of Feb. 15, and the city will continue to monitor the current county health orders in order to make a decision about the 2021 season, he said.
- The city is hoping to open for the 2021 pool season, though city staff is expecting regulations and guidelines from JCDHE to be made public in the near future.
- Aquatics Program Manager Sean Keenan said Shawnee is currently hiring for the season and “will offer all certification classes.”