Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, both of the city of Bryan pools, at Moore and East End parks, will be closed this season.

“After weeks of deliberation, we feel it is in the best interest of the Bryan community not to open for the 2020 summer season due to the current COVID-19 situation. I assure you that this was not an easy decision,” Bryan Parks and Recreation Director Ben Dominique said in a press release Thursday.

Dominique said it was a very difficult decision, but one made after thoroughly reviewing the official three-page guidelines issued by the state for local and public pools and aquatic centers, and after extensive consultation with the county and state health departments.

While the DeWine administration has said pools may reopen for the season May 26, Dominique and Mayor Carrie Schlade said the decision to close Bryan’s pools for 2020 was made reluctantly, but with the health and safety of pool staff and patrons as the top priority.

Schlade and Dominique said city officials spent “an enormous amount of time” looking through all the guidelines established by the state regarding reopening aquatic facilities, and talking with staff, various health professionals and parks and recreation professionals throughout Ohio prior to making their decision.

“At the end of the day we feel it is in the best interest of our staff, community and patrons to keep the pools closed,” Dominique said.

The state, as part of its Responsible Restart Ohio plan, established three pages of mandatory guidelines for local and public pools and aquatic centers. Some of those guidelines include: requiring pool operators to reduce capacity to ensure guests can stay six feet apart from other people; mandating social distancing and enforcing groups of only less than 10 people; cleaning and disinfecting often and recommending guests wear face coverings as they enter and leave pool areas and aquatic centers (but not while they’re swimming).

Schlade called the guidelines “cumbersome,” and said of the numerous other communities the city spoke to, virtually all have said they will stay closed this year, including the village of Montpelier

“The capacity of our pools would have changed (and) the increased demand on sanitization of all surfaces located at our pool facilities would be extremely cumbersome to our staff,” Dominique noted in his press release, adding that the social distancing rules in the water and on deck would have greatly impacted the ability to move in and around the facility, and would have required additional monitoring.

“Managing our pools within these guidelines that have been established was still a high risk and not in the best interest of our community and staff,” he said.

“This decision to close was nothing we took lightly. It’s not a decision we wanted to take at all. But in the end it’s the decision we felt like we had to take for the health and safety of our staff and our residents,” Schlade said.

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