116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - The city's pools will open to the public this summer, but with some modifications to follow public health guidelines and flexibility in case COVID-19 pandemic conditions change.
The city said in a news release it will reopen pools in phases, allowing time to assess operations and make adjustments before opening all five pools for daily use.
Noelridge Aquatic Center is scheduled to open begging Memorial Day weekend. Cherry Hill Aquatic Center will host a kickoff evening swim on June 1 before beginning daily operations June 2. And Bever, Jones and Ellis pools will open the last week of June in the afternoons.
Parks and Recreation Director Scott Hock said the city is opening the larger pools in part because there is more room for patrons to spread out. Cedar Rapids staff also looked to other cities to align with their practices, he said.
'We're trying to take care of our swimmers and be smart about what we're doing,” Hock said.
COVID-19 vaccinations are ramping up, but Hock said 'we'll work closely with Linn County Public Health on where we think we should be capacity-wise based on the conditions of the pandemic at that time.”
Bender Pool offers lap swimming through a reservations system, and that will continue at the outdoor pools through the same process to prevent large groups from waiting to swim laps, Hock said. Swim lessons for Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 will be offered with a parent or guardian in the pool with the child so the instructor can maintain social distance. There will be size limits on classes for Level 4 and above, which will be held without a parent or guardian.
Bever, Ellis or Jones eventually could open in the evening for additional lessons, Hock said. Other smaller pools may be dedicated in the evenings to lap swim or open swim.
Masks will be required to be worn except when patrons are in the water, eating and drinking or not using deck furniture. Patrons may bring their own deck furniture until pool furniture is available. Lifeguards will wear masks unless in the water or sitting on an elevated lifeguard chair.
Season passes will not be sold, but adjustments will be made to the punch card system to make it more affordable for those who swim regularly. Those rates have not yet been set. Hock said the punch card system allows patrons to buy a certain number of visits at one time and should average to about the cost of a season pass.
City staff were concerned about offering season passes in case pools have to close if too many staff become ill or have to quarantine. With lap swimming, laps may not be available when people look to make a reservation and people may want a refund.
'The good thing about that is it is flexible, so if we have some cold weather or you go on vacation and you don't swim as much as you thought you would, the punches carry over,” Hock said. He said people could share a punch card among family members, and patrons may purchase more if those are used up. There is also a scholarship program available to help cover the cost, Hock said.
The Parks and Recreation Department currently is looking to hire pool staff, Hock said. Typically, the city has to replace about a third of its staff every year. Because closures in 2020 left the pools without their usual new crop of employees, the department is looking to hire over half its pool staff.
Marion city pool
In Marion, Parks and Recreation Director Seth Staashelm said the plan is to open up the Marion Pool for the season and hold swimming lessons. The Marion Pool season typically starts Memorial Day weekend and ends Labor Day weekend.
Staashelm said there likely will be COVID-19 protocols in place.
Like Cedar Rapids, he said, Marion has kept tabs on what other communities are doing and will have more information as the reopening date approaches.
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Gage Miskimen of The Gazette contributed to this report.