What to expect from Westfield’s pools this summer

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Photo by Kaitlin Bavaro

Westfield Memorial Pool

Megan Hinkel and Lily McGuire

With  COVID-19 still prevalent and summer quickly approaching, there are many unknowns about the situation regarding local pools. Many Westfield residents spend time at pools like Westfield Memorial Pool or Nomahegan Swim and Tennis Club during the summer. However, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has yet to announce when public pools will be allowed to open.

In an announcement on May 29, Murphy said, “pools are turning out to be more challenging than we thought they were.” He also said, “we’ve heard from a lot of communities that don’t want us to open them.”

In an nj.com article, Dr. Justin Sempsrott, executive director of Lifeguards Without Borders, said that chlorine can kill the virus. However, it could still spread if someone unknowingly has the virus and is close to many others in a pool.

While the date for when public pools can open is unknown, local pools are still preparing for a delayed opening this summer. 

On April 29, Westfield Memorial Pool announced to members that they would have to delay opening the pool until at least June 6 as opposed to the original opening over Memorial Day Weekend. Memorial Pool also postponed swim lessons and swim team registration indefinitely in this announcement. 

Memorial Pool further delayed its potential June 6 opening in an announcement on May 26. With this announcement, they also clarified that there would be no specific deadline in place for registration and it would instead be open until membership is sold out. 

Heather Re-Ferratti, Assistant Director of Recreation and Westfield’s aquatic supervisor, said, “This delay is necessary to protect the health and safety of our members and employees with the proper accommodations to address all social distancing requirements issued by the State of New Jersey related to COVID-19.” 

Barney Veres, WHS junior and head lifeguard at Nomahegan, said that more protective equipment was ordered for lifeguards that would be used if the pool could open. “There will be temperature checks when entering the club and social distancing measures to make sure people stay six feet apart,” he said. Veres said that masks will be highly encouraged if Nomahegan opens again and lifeguards will remove masks if they need to go in the water to make a save. 

Nomahegan Swim and Tennis Club has dealt with similar struggles as they cannot open until Murphy allows them to do so. However, their tennis courts are open for members with some new restrictions. According to an announcement on April 26, members are required to wear a face mask when entering and exiting courts, comply with social distancing rules, and can only play tennis on the courts. They are also only allowed to play with four to six balls and it is recommended that players kick balls instead of touching them with their hands if a ball from another court rolls onto their court. 

The delayed pool openings have left lifeguards temporarily out of jobs. WHS alum Wyatt Miller, a lifeguard at Memorial Pool, said that he would feel comfortable returning to work because “guards are normally at a distance and we already have equipment such as pocket BVM masks to protect us from disease.” 

Although lifeguards have not received new training yet, Veres said that “When we get certified to be a lifeguard, part of the training is how to apply the proper protective equipment when dealing with someone in need of assistance.” 

Senior Maggie Maguire, a lifeguard at Memorial Pool, said, “The Red Cross has extended all of our two-year guard certifications for 120 days since people can’t go out and take the classes right now.” In the event that pools do reopen, it is likely that lifeguards will be trained with the new protocols. 

In addition to lifeguards and pool administrators, Westfield residents are eagerly awaiting Murphy’s next announcement. Westfield resident Kathleen Walker said that although she wishes the pool could be open, “I would rather wait for all safety measures to be implemented properly and have the pool open later.”