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Boise Parks and Recreation director explains decision to keep pools closed this summer

"The safest route to take is to be more conservative," Director Doug Holloway said. “It really has no bearing on the actual virus living in a water setting."

BOISE, Idaho — Boise Parks and Recreation on Friday made an executive decision to keep city pools closed for the summer due to safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Director Doug Holloway said safety was the main priority in the city’s decision to keep the pools closed.

“At the end of the day, the safest route to take is to be more conservative and that decision was to close pools for the summer,” Holloway said. “It really has no bearing on the actual virus living in a water setting. In fact, it actually cannot live in a pool setting, but it’s more of just getting a large number of kids or adults together in one location. That is certainly something of concern.”

Holloway said there were also logistical concerns for opening pools during a pandemic, such as cleaning locker rooms and showers.

In addition to hiring and training a staff to perform those tasks, the staff would have also needed training to monitor social distancing.

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The closure of pools also means the cancellation of swim lessons, which like school cancellations, is just another setback for kids without a definitive solution.

“Talking to some of our partners out there like the YMCA, they’ve delayed any kind of swim lessons out into the middle of the summer, if at all during the summer,” Holloway said. “The same thing with swim teams. They’ve pretty much been canceled everywhere.”

Although deep and dark, the ponds at Esther Simplot Park are sanitary for swimming. The same goes for the ponds at Veteran’s Memorial Park.

“[The ponds] are safe,” Holloway said. “We do strongly recommend that children and adults wear life preservers.”

The Boise River is another alternative option for summer swimming, but the pool closures are raising concerns about bringing larger crowds to the river, and potentially bringing more accidents.

“We have spoken to a few partners in the community and our fire department,” Holloway said. “We talked about gearing up and really getting that marketing effort out there about avoiding canals and avoiding rivers.”

RELATED: Boise ponds open to visitors, but crowds are discouraged

RELATED: Outdoor public pools in Boise to be closed this summer

Boise was the first city in the Treasure Valley to cancel the swim season outright.

The City of Caldwell has elected to follow Gov. Brad Little’s Idaho Rebounds plan, and open their pools on June 13.

Nampa’s decision to cancel pool season is still “under consideration," according to a city spokesperson. Meridian does not have any city-owned pools.

Holloway said Boise’s decision was on track with every decision they make, bringing safety to the forefront of concern.

“If we feel like we can’t open up something safely, then we’re not gonna open it up,” he said.

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