Lifeguard shortage leads to Barton Springs closures
In the latest ripple effect of the pandemic, Barton Springs Pool will be closed indefinitely for most of Mondays and Wednesdays.
Driving the news: The city doesn't have enough certified open-water lifeguards to operate the pool.
Why it matters: Who among us has not cooled off at the storied pool as temps rise to scorching levels?
Between the lines: In response to the pandemic, the city's aquatic division ceased training lifeguards during spring break of 2020.
- Training resumed in spring 2021, but the staffing deficit has been difficult to overcome.
- Currently, Austin has 23 certified open-water guards on staff — and requires as many as 75 during the summer.
What they're saying: "The pandemic definitely changed the game," aquatics division manager Jodi Jay told Axios.
Flashback: Austin has about 100 lifeguards on staff — but needs around 650 to open summer pools for the 2022 swim season, which starts June 3.
Of note: The Monday and Wednesday closures, which start next week, will not affect the 5am-8am swim times, which remain on "swim at your own risk" status.
- The pool will also be closed during the regular Thursday cleaning from 8am-7pm.
What's next: The city is hosting lifeguard hiring fairs Wednesday and Friday afternoons this week.
- Pay starts at $15 per hour, and lifeguards must be at least 15 years old.
- The city is offering a $500 bonus to lifeguards who work through the entire summer.
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