Note: This article has been updated with information about the Walnut Hills Swim Club.
MANSFIELD — Despite the cancellation of many beloved summertime events, one classic activity will remain accessible to the public this summer.
Gov. Mike DeWine has announced that pools can reopen May 26 if they are regulated by local health departments. This doesn't include water parks or amusement parks, sites that will be addressed in the near future.
DeWine noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised there is no evidence the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas. Safety protocols for pools will be posted soon.
“I think pools give people a sense of community. It gives you somewhere to go. You can take your kids somewhere and spend the day with them. It gives kids something to do," said Mark Abrams of the City of Mansfield's Parks and Recreation department.
Abrams said that Liberty Pool will open June 1. Reopening details for other pools can be found below.
Clear Fork Swim Club, Lexington
Board member Kristen Wiltanger confirmed that the Clear Fork Swim Club will open soon, though an opening date has not been announced yet.
“We were super excited. It’s been really hard because so many members have been reaching out to us and we’ve had our membership application out since March. There have been so many questions and we haven’t been able to answer them,” she said. “We board members were all there this weekend working, sanitizing, pulling weeds.”
Wiltanger added that the board is in the process of reviewing state guidelines for reopening and making final decisions related to pool operations. Staff will be enforcing social distancing guidelines, but members are also asked to encourage their children to follow the rules.
“One of the benefits to our location is we have quite a bit of land. There’s a lot of room for folks to spread out. What we’re more concerned about is people congregating in groups of more than 10,” she said. “There’s a lot of personal responsibility involved here.”
Mansfield Area YMCA
The YMCA will reopen its facilities on June 1. A limited number of members will be allowed in the facility at a time and will need to make a reservation before coming in.
President and CEO Cristen Gilbert said the YMCA will be operating in a “phase one” during the month of June, with certain restrictions in place. The staff will then re-evaluate as needed.
“What we’re trying to do is gauge the amount of people in the facility, monitor the social distancing guidelines and provide members with the experience they want but also manage the number of people in the facility,” she said. “Our goal for this entire thing is to give everybody a safe experience.”
The swimming pools will be open for lap swimming only. The splash pad will be closed. No towels will be provided.
The communal shower area will be closed, but private locker room showers will be available and sanitized after each use.
There will be no drinking fountain or vending machine access throughout the facility.
Gilbert said the aquatic center staff is having ongoing discussions on how to offer swim lessons while still complying with social distancing guidelines.
Seltzer Park, Shelby
In Shelby, the city's park board voted just three days before DeWine's announcement to close the swimming pool for the 2020 season out of an abundance of caution due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Board members cited concerns including proper social distancing, frequently touched surfaces such as pool rails, slides and tables, and limiting attendance to meet state guidelines on gatherings.
"I'm really surprised, none of us assumed that (DeWine) would open the pools because of social distancing," said board member Dave Keinath. "I think it will depend on those safety protocols whether we can open the pool, and whether we have enough staff and resources."
Seltzer Pool was originally scheduled to open full-time from May 29 to Aug. 16. According to Shelby parks superintendent Jerry Marshall, it takes approximately 30 days from the time the park decides to start filling and preparing Seltzer Pool until it's ready for the public.
Keinath said even if pool preparations started immediately, the pool wouldn't be ready to swim in until mid June.
"I don't know whether we'll decide to open or not. It's our decision as a board, and we may have to have another discussion," he said. "There's just a whole lot of questions."
The City of Shelby Board of Park Commissioners will hold a special meeting May 19 to consider the opening of the pool.
Woodland Swim Club, Mansfield
Scott Baltzell, a board member of the Woodland Pool, said the pool will likely open this summer. An opening date has not been announced since the pool board is in the process of reviewing the requirements to ensure they can be properly carried out.
"Our plan is to open," he said. "If so we will be opening a little bit later than we typically would, probably the end of June.
"The board hopes to continue Wednesdays at Woodland, complete with food trucks and live music, and dive in movie nights."