Prairie Village pool season with COVID-19 limits takes shape — here are some key details

Prairie Village pool

Prairie Village city staff is operating under the assumption that the pool will open for the 2021 season — and there's a tentative pool reopening plan that will allow for up to 400 patrons daily, along with social distancing guidelines and sanitization protocols. File photo.

The city of Prairie Village’s tentative pool reopening plan for this summer is designed to accommodate up to 400 patrons daily, a decrease from the daily average of 575 visitors in years past.

Since the 2020 pool season was canceled due to COVID-19, city staff has been working on a plan to ensure that the pool can open in some capacity, said Meghan Buum, assistant city administrator.

The city council already approved adjusting the hours of operation to help accommodate an ongoing staffing shortage, but Buum said the city is committed to creating a safe season.

“A successful pool opening can’t happen with just the city, it also has to happen with our community,” Buum said. “I know the city is committed to making sure we have the safest environment possible for both our patrons and our employees, and I trust that our community will give us that same respect.”

Reopening details

Below are some key details of how the 2021 pool season will look in Prairie Village, based on Buum’s presentation:

  • The number of patrons entering and exiting the pool at Harmon Park will be tracked by front desk staff.
  • Prairie Village will not be participating in the Super Pool Pass program this year, which allows residents entrance to several local pools.
  • Social distancing will be enforced inside the pool facility. Pool loungers, concession stand tables and chairs, lines and the pool deck will be configured in a way to encourage and support social distancing.
  • Masks will be required throughout the facility whenever patrons are not in the pool or are unable to socially distance. If someone is at least six feet away from others not in their immediate group and sunbathing, for example, they do not need to wear a mask.
  • Pool management — not lifeguards or other teenagers working at the pool — will be in charge of managing the 400-patron capacity limit. Additionally, management will also be in charge of enforcing social distancing and deck management.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing will be incorporated throughout the regular work day. Hygiene stations and wipe stations for pool loungers will be available.
  • Prior to the pool opening, and on a regular basis, staff will use a professional level, bio protection system on frequently touched surfaces.
  • Signage and messaging will be posted throughout the facility, including social distancing markers. Staff will also remind patrons about social distancing and wearing masks via the intercom on an hourly basis.

Residents prioritized for entry?

Councilmember Sheila Myers asked if city staff plans on prioritizing residents for admission with a cap on patron capacity.

While patrons can’t be categorized by residents and non-residents, Buum said passholders historically make up about 275 of the 575 daily patrons and a majority of passholders are residents.

Buum said the city’s pool preparations were impacted by the most recent countywide health order, which was approved last month and does away with restrictions on mass gatherings and capacity limits.

That health order is in effect through April 30, and it’s unclear if there will still be countywide pandemic restrictions — like masking and social distancing mandates — still in place this summer.

But Buum said the city’s pool regulations will likely change again this year, at some point, especially once the season is underway and city staff and pool management can make observations about operations.

With this in mind, Buum said it would be most efficient if city staff and pool management had the authority to make operational changes as needed, rather than calling for a special city council meeting time and time again.

“I do want to drive home that once our season is underway, I really want to stress the discretion of our pool manager and city staff to make decisions quickly and changes quickly,” Buum said. “If we observe that something’s not working, we’re going to need to make a change quickly.”

No formal action was taken on the tentative pool reopening plan, but city staff is operating under the assumption that the pool will open Memorial Day weekend.