STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) — The city of Staunton's swimming pools will not be opening this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but other recreational activities are opening up this weekend.
WHSV file image of the Gypsy Hill Park pool
According to an announcement from the city on Friday afternoon, tennis courts and pickleball courts will open on the morning of Saturday, May 23, at the same time the Gypsy Hill Golf Course reopens.
But, based on ongoing COVID-19 guidance, swimming pools and Camp Staunton will not be reopening in the summer of 2020.
Staunton Parks and Recreation says tennis courts and pickleball courts will open on Saturday, with guidelines for safe and appropriate use posted on their website and displayed at all locations. The guidelines emphasize social distancing and sanitization and disinfection practices. While they welcome players to the courts, there should still not be any groups of more than 10 and all players are encouraged to leave immediately after they've finished playing to avoid gatherings.
As for the pools, the city says after consultation with public health officials and other parks and rec departments across Virginia, they determined that the swimming pools in Montgomery Hall Park and Gypsy Hill Park will remain closed for the 2020 season.
By making that call, Staunton joins Waynesboro, which announced their decision a few weeks ago, as well as all Virginia state parks, and many other cities and towns around the commonwealth that have announced pools won't reopen in the summer of 2020.
The department said their biggest consideration was the safety of employees and visitors, as well as the challenges of meeting public health guidance in a public swimming pool environment and its related facilities.
The city has also cancelled Camp Staunton for the 2020 season after assessing possible opening options but ultimately determining that they would be unable to offer the program in its traditional or even a modified format that would ensure the safety of employees and campers.
“While we are pleased to be able to open pickleball and tennis courts to the public in time for the Memorial Day Weekend, we are very saddened by the unavoidable need to close the pools and Camp Staunton for summer 2020,” said Parks and Recreation Director Chris Tuttle. “We understand the negative impacts caused by the loss of these facilities and programs and very much regret the circumstances that made these closures necessary. We do encourage residents to continue to use city parks and other facilities and programs as they become available during the reopening process.”
You can check the Parks and Recreation department website for their latest updates or call 540.332.3945.
To the north, where many more COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, the city of Harrisonburg has told WHSV that they still hope to open up pools later this summer, once state guidelines allow it, but it's unclear at this point what future plans in the 'Forward Virginia' blueprint will be for pools.