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St. Charles Department of Recreation opens first pool in St. Louis area

The Wapelhorst Aquatic Facility is the first public pool in the St. Louis area to open during the COVID-19 pandemic


On Saturday the St. Charles Department of Parks and Recreation opened the first of its three city pools, the Wapelhorst Aquatic Facility, as scheduled. 

This marked the first public pool opening in the St. Louis regional area during the pandemic. 

The department established a limited capacity of 200 people through May 31. By noon on Saturday, there were more than 75 people in attendance, which grew throughout the afternoon.

City of St. Charles aquatics coordinator Missy Hollander said the staff has been preparing and implementing safety protocols for weeks leading up to the pool’s opening day. 

Part of the process involved hiring a new cleaning team to ensure all high-touch points are properly sanitized throughout the day.

“They are going to be sanitizing the tubes after each individual use, and before they hand them back to new patrons to use,” Hollander said. “So there are a lot of measures that we sat down and came to.”

All 156 chairs around the pool are spaced at least six-feet apart, and all drinking fountains have been closed. 

Yellow lines have been taped on the ground in places where lines could form, such as slides, restrooms, and concession stands.

“Those are to ensure our guests, as they’re waiting to purchase something or go down the slide that they are waiting a safe distance away from one another,” Hollander said.

Season pass holder Jessica Garrison said she was thrilled to see how hard the pool’s staff was working to ensure safety for those in attendance.

“It’s super organized and everything’s spaced out,” Garrison said. “They’re cleaning the tubes as soon as we get off of it. I’m not worried about it at all.”

Garrison said the afternoon provided a sense of normalcy.

“My kids actually in the car said, ‘It feels like summer. We’re on our way to the pool,’” Garrison said. “So this kind of really sunk in that life can go back to normal a little bit, and we’re all gonna be okay.”

Hollander added that the staff will be monitoring pool safety and meeting multiple times per day to discuss and adjust guidelines, if needed.

The St. Charles Department of Parks and Recreation will open its second pool, the Blanchette Aquatic Facility, on May 30 if all goes well at the Wapelhorst location.

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