It’s been a long-running tradition to open the swimming pool at Carl Levin Park in Harker Heights on the weekend of Memorial Day, but that won’t be happening this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What makes that news even more disappointing for some residents is that the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department has had to create specific guidelines for reopening the pool for the summer of 2020 but just like so many other parts of life, there’s no decision yet as to when the pool will open.

In a press release, Public Relations Director Jerry Bark stated that much of the reopening plan is obstructed by the ability of the staff of Parks and Recreation to open the pool in a way that is safe for both the staff and patrons.

“The reopening is also strongly dependent on the availability of potential staff,” Bark said.

Currently, Parks and Recreation is taking applications for lifeguards but is not able to begin hiring. When lifeguards can be interviewed and hired, however, they must be American Red Cross Lifeguard certified prior to hiring, or they must be at least enrolled in a course before the designated opening date of the pool.

Jeff Achee, director of parks and recreation, said, “As much as we want to open our swimming pool, we’re more interested in ensuring the safety and health of the community. We’ve run into two enormous issues: availability of staff and the ability of those staff members to safely provide care for each patron at the pool, if needed.”

Parks and Recreationstaff are faced with determining the possibility of a reduction of open swimming hours, enacting policies that ensure the safety of staff and guests in addition to making sure that all staff have been trained in COVID-19 guidelines, as required by the American Red Cross and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

Swim lessons and water aerobics have already been cancelled for the summer but the staff will review ways of offering alternative programming that be conducted within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NRPA guidelines regarding swimming pool operations.

The Parks and Recreation Department will post the most up-to-date information on its website: www.ci.harker-heights.tx.us/parks and Facebook page.

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