As California Imposes New COVID-19 Restrictions, Swim Lessons ‘Essential’

Swim lessons

The surge in COVID-19 cases has triggered new rounds of restrictions in California, but swim lessons and other “drowning prevention classes” have been exempted as essential services.

In the latest spate of COVID-19 restrictions by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), swimming pools are included as one of the exempted classes of activities. Outdoor swimming pools are allowed to be open throughout the state, with indoor pools to be closed in counties with the highest prevalence of cases (designated as “widespread” or “substantial”). Water parks of all sorts are to remained closed.

But, from the California guidance:

Drowning prevention classes, including swim lessons with certified instructors, are permitted in indoor and outdoor swimming pools in all tiers, as they are deemed essential.

The necessity of swim lessons and learn-to-swim classes has been a cornerstone of the argument to reopen or keep open pools in many parts of the United States. Given the demonstrable health risk drowning prevents, particularly to children under the age of four, California’s decision is a nod to the centrality of water safety even as other fitness services have to closed to keep the coronavirus from spreading.

The decision was hailed by stakeholders such as the United States Swim School Association. From a post on their website:

We understand and accept the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic requires the state and local health departments to be vigilant for all of us, to flatten the curve and prevent the continuation of COVID’s hold on the landscape. Leaders and partners in the drowning prevention community, including the California Coalition for Children’s Safety and Health (CCCSH) leadership agree that drowning prevention is just as important and can be done safely, even during this pandemic. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for the one to four-year-old population, and one of the leading causes of unintentional death for the teen and youth population.

As we work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we must also continue to carry out public health activities that prevent children from dying or being permanently harmed by preventable unintentional injuries such as drowning. We cannot and should not ignore the importance of drowning prevention as an essential public health need and we applaud leadership at the CADPH for recognizing this and deeming drowning prevention, including swim lessons as essential.

The USSSA has assembled an action plan that specifically integrates CDC guidance into swim school curriculum. It also has shared best practices on issues like pool ventilation.

6 comments

  1. Ja Bounce

    Yes!!! I still would like to see all Aquatic Facilities testing across the board to show for/against Covid-19 vs. Chlorinated Pools! #SwimmingWorldOnlyPosted1independentStudyToDate

  2. Liesl Taner

    Correction: indoor lessons allowed in any tier!

    “Outdoor swimming pools are allowed to be open throughout the state, with indoor pools to be closed in counties with the highest prevalence of cases (designated as “widespread” or “substantial”).

    Essential Services:
    “Drowning prevention classes, including swim lessons with certified instructors, are permitted in indoor and outdoor swimming pools in all tiers, as they are deemed essential.”

  3. avatar
    eleen hedges

    what about HS/ Club swimmin?

  4. avatar
    Paula

    This is Great news!
    We need to get the children back into swim lessons.

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