Most New Orleans outdoor public pools will stay closed this summer; city ​​cites lifeguard shortage | Local Politics


The sounds of splashing water and laughing children won’t be heard this summer in many of the city-run swimming pools across New Orleans.

The New Orleans Recreation Development Commission says that due to an inability to hire enough lifeguards, it will open only five of its seasonal outdoor pools on Monday. If the city can hire more help, three more may open later in the summer.

“A nationwide lifeguard shortage has made its way to the City of New Orleans,” said Melissa Newell, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office. “The guard shortage will have a direct impact on NORD’s ability to open all of its outdoor public pools this summer season. NORD will continue to actively recruit and hire lifeguards throughout the summer.”







The Harrell Playground pool is locked and drained of water in New Orleans, La. Thursday, June 2, 2022. (Photo by Max Becherer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)




New Orleans has 15 seasonal public outdoor pools dotted across the city’s neighborhoods, though one is currently undergoing renovations. Before the pandemic, their openings — often highlighted by a swimsuit-clad mayor taking the plunge — were a familiar mark of summer.

In 2020, due to COVID precautions, the city allowed lap swimming and water aerobics at some pools, by appointment only. Last year, the city said at the start of summer that five pools would remain closed due to trouble finding lifeguards.

The outdoor pools that will open on schedule this summer are at the Lyons Recreation Center, the St. Bernard Recreation Center, the Stallings Gentilly Playground and the Whitney Young Pool on the east bank.

On the west bank, the pool at Morris FX Jeff Sr. Park, formerly Behrman Park, will be closed for renovations. However, Algiers residents will have another option, as NORD will open and operate the pool in Federal City this summer.







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The Harrell Playground pool is locked and drained of water in New Orleans, La. Thursday, June 2, 2022. (Photo by Max Becherer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)




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New Orleans is hardly the only city struggling to put lifeguards in towers, as Newell noted. Nearly half of the nation’s more than 300,000 pools could be affected by the shortage, according to a recent report from CNN. Officials have tied the lifeguard shortage to larger issues with hiring and retaining workers since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

NORD is still hiring summer lifeguards, who earn $15.91 an hour. The agency says it can train people 16 and older to work as lifeguards as long as they know how to swim.

The summer pool schedule runs from Monday to Sept. 3.

The city’s indoor pools, which are open year round, will be open through the summer. The pools in Gert Town, Joe W. Brown, and Sanchez parks will be open Tuesday-Friday from 8 am to 7 pm, according to the city.

The Treme Recreation Community Center indoor pool will open Tuesday-Friday from 7 am to 7 pm

The Lyons, Stallings Gentilly, Whitney Young and Federal City outdoor pools will open on Monday. Federal City will be open Mondays through Friday from 8 am to 6 pm and Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm The others will be open Monday from 8 am to 6 pm and on Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm

All pools are closed 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. for a staff lunch hour.

If staffing allows, the city says it will prioritize opening the following pools on a “rotating” basis: Sampson, AL Davis and Rosenwald.

Newell, the city spokesman, said summer camps with aquatic activities will still be able to use pools. The city has also had trouble hiring camp counselors, but that shortage has not affected summer camp programming, according to Newell.

“Many of our camps are operated by partner organizations who hire and manage their own staff,” Newell said. “NORD-run camps will be fully staffed by experienced summer and full-time NORD employees.”

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