Davis YMCA Staff Take a Dip So Pool Reopens Safely

BOARDMAN, Ohio –Before it opened its pool to members, the Davis Family YMCA had to practice.

In the days leading up to Monday’s reopening, the Boardman YMCA had staff take a dip to see how many people the pool could hold with everyone maintaining social distancing.

Ed Metzinger, the Davis Family YMCA aquatic director, said 55 employees were able to properly maintain a social distance and adhere to Ohio COVID-19 guidelines. Filling the pool also let staff see what a full pool looks like in the age of the coronavirus. Normally, on hot summer days, the pool can be filled to the gills with swimmers.

“The front desk staff, somebody that teaches aerobics, they don’t really know what we’re doing at aquatics, so they were preconditioned,” said Metzinger. “So that really gave us a good, healthy idea.”

Metzinger expected at most around 70 guests were in the pool at one time as the day progressed. There were an estimated 60 swimmers at the pool an hour after it opened at 7 a.m. Monday.

“The Y in itself, as a community-based organization, has always brought forth the health and well-being of the community,” Metzinger said. “And especially at these times with the Coronavirus hitting, it’s so important that a place like this exists so people have a chance to enjoy [the water] and be completely secure in knowing that we’re doing everything to make sure that they stay safe.”

The pool opened days after Ohio began to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases across the state. Between June 23 and Monday, the state recorded over 2,205 new cases, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Mahoning County, meanwhile, saw 30 new cases during that time.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pools are safe due to chlorine and other cleaners. “There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds,” the CDC states. “Additionally, proper operation of these aquatic venues and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate the virus.”

Only 150 guests will be permitted on the pool deck. If capacity is reached, guests are asked to sit in the grass, swim inside or return at a later time until the area is below the 150-person limit.

The pool will be open for lap swimmers 7 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and for open swim 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The grass area will have 100 chairs and the deck will have 30. The staff will sanitize the chairs in between use. Staff members will clean the chairs and often-touched surfaces every 45 minutes.

The YMCA will not allow guests as part of its COVID-19 guidelines and the facility will require six feet between members that don’t live together. Metzinger said the YMCA is relying on parents or guardians to help enforce social distancing.

The Davis Family YMCA did its research before running its mock opening. The facility discussed safety concerns and procedures with the Ohio Department of Health, the YMCA of the USA and other facilities throughout the state.

“We could have opened a week or two earlier, but we felt like we were rushing things,” Metzinger said. “We wanted to make sure we were safe and we were all set.”

Metzinger said the YMCAs have procedures in place in the event that someone tests positive while at a facility. He said Zoom conferences will continue with other YMCAs.

He said the situation is “flexible” and asks for understanding from the guests. Metzinger asked for guests to be patient and understand the health department requires the rules and regulations enacted at the YMCA.

“We want everyone to be happy, we want everyone to be safe, we want everyone to be back here because the Y is the pillar of the community,” Metzinger said. “We built it to be that. We want it to be that for everyone and everybody.”

Pictured: An aerial view of the Davis Family YMCA in 2018.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.