Just a few weeks ago, aquatics facilities across the country faced the challenge of reopening in a post-coronavirus world.
To be honest, the word “challenge” is putting it too mildly. It was truly a Herculean feat to navigate the public health recommendations on a local, state and national level — which, in some cases, were confusing at best and contradictory at worst — and figure out how to comply with these new requirements in addition to dealing with the normal stresses of opening a facility. Even during the best of times, a facility opening is hard work that takes meticulous planning and preparation. To open in COVID-19 times, with only a few weeks’ notice, is nothing short of miraculous.
To the many who were able to open under these extreme conditions, I applaud you! You deserve mad props for pulling it together and making it happen in such chaotic times.
For other facilities, the added restrictions are just too much to take on with such short notice — a completely understandable stance when the safety of staff and patrons are paramount. Many have chosen to delay opening to give them more time to better prepare, while others have made the painful decision (or have had the decision made for them) to remain closed for the season.
But no matter your facility’s situation, there’s no question that this is a profoundly unique time in the history of the industry. And in such times, I think it would behoove us to consider this as a valuable learning opportunity, so that if and when there are similar occurrences in the future, we will have the power and knowledge of what worked (and didn’t work) to guide our actions.
To that end, I’m encouraged to see many organizations already hard at work compiling data on how this once-in-a-lifetime crisis has affected aquatics facilities. Just two recent examples I’ve come across: NRPA asking for folks to report pool closures across the nation, and Counsilman-Hunsaker’s survey on facility reopenings. If you are aware of others, please share a link. I hope that you’ll take the time to share whatever information you can. The data gathered now will help us, as in industry, create resources to help our future selves better able to weather challenges down the road.