With summer upon us and communities beginning to reopen after a spring spent sheltering in place, families are beginning to look for places to get out, have fun, and, with the weather warming up, cool off.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact some of the places people would usually go. Although most pools and water parks have traditionally opened Memorial Day weekend, those openings have been delayed this year as operators put safety and disinfection procedures in place.
Stillwater’s city pool in Couch Park will not be opening this summer because the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, the partner that has managed the pool for the past two years for the City of Stillwater, has determined it would be too hard to keep locker rooms and common areas disinfected.
The YMCA also worried about being able to find enough lifeguards to staff the pool and teach swim lessons because many college students returned to their home towns when Oklahoma State University moved classes online after spring break.
The City of Stillwater has announced that its splash pads located in Southern Woods Park, 12th Avenue and Ramsey Street, and Boomer Lake Park, N. Washington Street and Lakeview Road, will be open beginning June 1, along with other park facilities like playgrounds, pavilions and gazebos.
Shelters in city parks will be available for rent as well.
None of the facilities will be disinfected so people are warned that they will be using them at their own risk.
The City of Perkins plans to open its splash pad, located in the Oklahoma Territorial Plaza, 705 N. Main St., on Friday. It will also have a “Use at your own risk” policy.
The Cushing Aquatic Center, 500 S. Little Ave., is the only outdoor pool in Payne County that will be open as summer begins.
The City of Cushing announced last week that the pool would open for limited day swimming 1-5:30 p.m. beginning on June 1.
Senior Swim will be offered daily from 10:30-11:30 a.m.for people 55 and older.
Twilight swim and private parties will not be offered until at least June 15, and could be limited. Those hours will be 6:30-8:30 p.m., with private parties held on Wednesday and Twilight Swim Thursday through Saturday. Swim lessons are tentatively scheduled to begin then as well.
Sign-up for swim lessons begins on June 1.
No more than 200 people will be allowed to enter the pool at a time until at least June 15, to ensure there is space for social distancing.
Chairs will be spaced out and patrons should not move them. Staff will disinfect the chairs between uses. The snack bar will offer only pre-packaged foods.
Daycares and other groups will need to make reservations in advance for day swim. There will be a limit of one group at a time, to ensure there is enough room for the public while limiting capacity.
Birthday parties will not be offered inside the pool area so the public is encouraged to use pavilions in the surrounding park for cake, ice cream and presents before entering the pool.
Some of the restrictions in place could be lifted after June 15, depending on circumstances.
The City of Yale does not currently plan to open its municipal pool, located in Jim Thorpe Park, 900 E. Erie Ave. A city staff member said the Yale City Commission may revisit that decision in July.
The Pawnee Bath House, located on Pawnee Lake Road, is not currently open but the City of Pawnee is working on changing that, a city staff member said.
In addition to putting plans in place to operate safely in light of COVID-19, enough lifeguards will have to be found before the historic swimming and recreation area near Pawnee Lake can open.
People willing to drive just a little further will find the Sun ‘N Fun water park, located seven miles east of Ponca City on Lake Road, open beginning Saturday.