EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Public pools reopened in Rhode Island Monday under new guidelines as part of Phase 2 of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plan to reopen the state’s economy.
The new guidelines require all facilities to only allow 15 people inside at a time. Bathrooms and lockers must remain closed and all shared equipment must be sterilized before and after being used.
Pods Swimming in East Providence has been preparing to reopen since the facility had to close its doors 11 weeks ago due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to owner Susan Pascale-Frechette.
She said that an April drowning in Coventry made her push harder for Rhode Island to allow her facility to reopen.
“There’s got to be a way to get children in to practice water safety skills and we had families after that really emailing us and just really nervous about the summer,” Pascale-Frechette said.
Approximately 600 swimmers signed up for lessons within a 24-hour period at Pods Swimming, Pascale-Frechette said.
Ashley Self signed her 6-year-old daughter, Carolina, up for lessons where instructors are paired with one swimmer and are required to wear a face shield while in the water.
“I think that the clear kind of guard was a great idea,” Self said.
At Pods, swimming lanes are spaced out 7 feet, according Pascale-Frechette, and clear shields divide the beginning of each lane.
She said the combination of an air vent system with pool chemicals, makes being underwater the safest place to be.
“The only place that COVID-19 does not exist is a chlorinated pool,” Pascale-Frechette said.
Pods Swimming is open six days a week for swimming lessons.