YMCA Reintroduces Group Swimming Lessons

Erie, PA – Regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, drowning is still the leading cause of accidental death among children under the age of 14 and as America’s Swim Instructor the YMCA of Greater Erie is reintroducing group swimming lessons inclusive of policies and procedures that prioritize the safety of all, in keeping with the Y’s long history of teaching water safety in the Erie community.

“We believe the YMCA has a critical role in helping families attempt to get back to a new normal. The safety of our Y staff and participants is our highest priority,” said Karen Snedeker, YMCA of Greater Erie Aquatics Director. “However, some of the protective measures that we can expect from adults are, for a variety of reasons, not always possible in youth programs. In some cases, children are too young to understand, or consistently practice the precautions and in other cases, the precaution may create a new safety concern.”

All of these factors mean, that while certain precautions against the spread of COVID-19 can and will be applied in YMCA aquatics programs, the Y’s infection control measures in aquatic environments will differ from those that may be suitable for other environments.

YMCA swim instructors have undergone additional COVID-19 health and safety training and have modified program delivery, curriculum and administration of swimming and water safety programs.  YMCA lifeguards and instructors have been trained in enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols of high touch pool areas and shared equipment.

“Our curriculum has been adjusted to deter face to face contact and to assist with social distancing guidelines. The instructor will not face the student but modified to the side. Our instructors will wear face shields and breath control skills will be limited and also performed to the side,” said Snedeker.  “In some class levels, parents will be required to accompany their child in the water, in lieu of the instructor.”

Other modifications include:

  • Intentional activity design to promote social distancing
  • Reducing instructor to participant ratios in group lessons
  • Groups will remain consistent for the duration of the lesson
  • Participants will attempt to be at fingertip length apart during the lesson
  • Groups will maintain 6 feet from other groups
  • One parent/guardian per child is allowed at the swim lesson- but will be asked to wait in the viewing area
  • Staggered lesson start times

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