Although Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday, May 14, that pools would be permitted to open May 26 if certain conditions are met to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Hilliard leaders have not decided if they will reverse a decision to close the city's pools for the season.

Correction: Because of a reporter's error, the original version of this story published Thursday, May 14, misstated Hilliard's position on opening its pools. The city has not made a decision whether to open the pools because of Gov. Mike DeWine's new guidance, according to David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.

Although Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday, May 14, that pools would be permitted to open May 26 if certain conditions are met to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Hilliard leaders have not decided if they will reverse a decision to close the city's pools for the season.

“At this time, we have not changed our policy,” said David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.

But Hilliard will continue to work with other central Ohio communities through the Central Ohio Mayors and Managers Association “to assess the newly released guidelines associated with opening pools,” Ball said.

The city will review the guidelines “to see if modifying our policy makes sense from a public safety, feasibility and economic standpoint,” he said.

“Safety is always our first priority but there are many factors to be considered,” Ball said.

Those factors include cost, staffing, patron experience and whether social distancing can be enforced in a pool environment.

Ball said the city faces challenges that include asking teenage lifeguards to enforce 6-foot distancing in the pools and ensuring that people outside of the pool wear face masks, Ball said.

City Manager Michelle Crandall on April 27 announced the closure of the Hilliard Family Aquatic Center at Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park and the Clyde “Butch” Seidle Community Pool on Schirtzinger Road for the season.

The closure extends to the splash pad at Hilliard’s Station Park.

Crandall said she made the decision after listening to DeWine issue his orders April 27 to begin reopening certain businesses in the state after all but essential businesses were ordered closed in mid-March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The list did not include recreation centers or pools.

“These are not decisions we took lightly, given the popularity of Hilliard’s aquatic facilities and summer events, (but) due to the continuation of social-distancing practices and the need to ensure the health and safety of our community, opening our pools is not possible,” Crandall said in April.

Because significant fixed costs are associated with preparing pools to open for the summer season, it would not be financially practical to plan to offer a shortened or modified season, she said in April. Staffing also would be a challenge, as many seasonal employees hired to work at the pools likely would seek other summer employment, she said.

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