Early data shows swim school safety precautions working
The United States Swim School Association recently surveyed members to get a picture of how many students are currently in lessons and what health and safety precautions have been put in place. The results so far have been positive and could point to swim schools being a safer child activity option.
Based on our recent survey of our swim school membership, 38,398 students have been swimming weekly for an average of 4 weeks. Those schools have had 1,959 staff currently working. While there have been 43 cases of COVID-19 positive exposures within swim school facilities, NOT ONE case has been traced back to a swim school.
We are finding that while students or staff may contract COVID-19 outside of the school, from family members or attending a party with friends, they are not found to be passing it along to those they have come in contact with while at the swim school before they knew they were positive. It would seem the health and safety precautions swim schools have put in place have been working.
Here is what we know from our members about actions they are taking.
Swim Lesson Styles Currently Being Offered
Many schools are offering more private swim lessons.
- private | 88.24%
- parent and baby lessons | 56.86%
- semi-private to kids in same family | 48.04%
- group with 3 – 4 students | 46.08%
- semi-private with 2 students | 41.18%
- camp style lessons meeting more than once a week | 11.76%
- group lesson larger than 4 students | 5.88%
- group lessons with parent in water (even for older students) | 5.88%
Type of Facilities Being Used for Swim Lessons Currently
Many of our members operate in indoor facilities. Members’ professional, year-round water safety instructional programs are housed in unique environments with the highest quality AIR/HVAC systems. Indoor swimming pools need a higher level of circulation to protect the buildings they exist in. Pools that are dedicated to instruction (and training) have superb ventilation systems by necessity. If they didn’t, then the building the pools are housed in would be eaten up by the humidity. Most pools turn over the air in a few hours, minimally, and a lot of pools can introduce up to 100% fresh air into the pool room by adjusting HVAC set points, drastically cutting down on the air turnover time. The air quality in an indoor pool can be significantly better than the air quality of a supermarket.
- indoor, you own or lease the pool and it’s used only for swim lessons | 52.38%
- outdoor, you own or lease pool and it’s used only for swim lessons | 26.67%
- indoor, you lease or rent pool water and pool has other uses | 18.10%
- outdoor, you lease or rent pool water and pool has other uses | 13.33%
- outdoor, you travel to backyard or community type pools to offer swim lessons | 13.33%
- other | 4.76%
Current Health and Safety Precautions Being Used by Swim Schools
The swim school business is all about safety. Providing safety instruction in a carefully managed and safe environment is all they do, and even outside of COVID-19, they do everything and anything they possibly can to keep the children in their care safe. They are stewards of safety; it is in our DNA and a key value of this association. Thus many swim schools have gone above and beyond CDC, state and local guidance. Please note as you review this list that facilities and areas of the country are experiencing different levels of risk. Not all precautions listed will work for all swim school communities.
- come in and leave in swimsuit | 83.96%
- all staff on deck, lobby, office wear cloth masks | 82.08%
- staff temperature checks at start of shift | 81.13%
- all customers wear cloth masks in building | 77.36%
- all staff wear face shields in water | 72.64%
- less classes in the pool at one time | 71.70%
- hand sanitizer use required upon entry to the building | 70.75%
- only one adult allowed in building with child | 70.75%
- reduced class sizes for first opening phase | 66.04%
- 6 ft markers on flooring | 65.09%
- one way in and one way out of the building | 62.26%
- customer health questionnaire posted at entrance to the building | 57.55%
- closing locker rooms/changing rooms | 57.55%
- staff health questionnaire at start of each shift | 55.66%
- customer temperature checks as they enter the building | 52.83%
- Plexiglas shield installed at customer service desk | 41.51%
- private lessons only | 38.68%
- staggered start times for classes | 38.68%
- customer health questionnaire completed by each person prior to entering the building | 28.30%
- other | 20.38%
Swim School Instruction Operates in Chlorinated Water Which Deactivates the COVID Virus
Per the CDC there has been no evidence of transmission of the COVID-19 virus in a pool. Participants and instructors are literally submerged in disinfecting (chlorinated) water many times during instruction. Many swim school pools go beyond standard pool hygiene code, adding extra UV light disinfection to pools for enhanced purity. Swim schools also typically go above and beyond the state laws to check and record pool chlorine levels, checking as much as four times a day to as often as every hour.
We are all needing to make tough choices as we navigate this pandemic as a community. Learning to swim is an essential life skill. One that is a vital layer of drowning prevention. It’s also an activity affording some great cognitive and physical benefits to children, a subject we will cover in more detail on a future post. In a time when activities are limited, learning to swim may be a great option for your family. We will continue to monitor best practices, guidance and data to allow our swim school members to make informed decisions to operate as safely as they are able.
Based on our recent survey of our membership, 41,982 students have been swimming weekly for an average of 3 months with 2,612 staff members currently working at swim schools.
While according to our survey there have been 99 cases of COVID-19 positive exposures within swim school facilities there have only been two case traced to a swim school, with zero students impacted.
Schools feel their health protocols are working and overall 85% feel they have an exceptional or very good culture of compliance.
All staff on deck, lobby, office wear cloth masks is now the leading health measure at 90%, followed by staff temperature checks at the start of each shift at 84%. Only one adult in the building with a child is at 82% and all customers wearing cloth masks in the building is at 79%.
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