I consider myself to be a cautious person. In more normal times, I tend to overanalyze the risks associated with any given activity. Since COVID began, my cautious streak has continued. I’ve gone into a store once since shutdowns started (my husband does the bulk of our shopping or we get groceries delivered). I’ve yet to host or attend any social gatherings, even outdoors. We don’t plan to send our child back to preschool this year.
But there is one thing that we’ve been doing, and that is attending swim lessons once a week at Goldfish Swim School in Yorktown Heights.
I won’t lie, I had some reservations about swim lessons. Having watched how COVID has ravaged communities around the country (including those in Westchester), I suspect it is probably somewhat normal to hold such concerns. But I spoke with staff over at Goldfish, and after receiving updates about their health and safety protocols, and speaking with our child’s doctors, we decided it would be worth attending a class to see if we were comfortable. I wouldn’t be writing this post if we hadn’t been! In fact, even one of our child’s physicians (who we see more regularly than your average family because he is doing food allergy treatment) was impressed in hearing about Goldfish’s policies.
I’d heard wonderful things about Goldfish prior to COVID, and it is no wonder why. Their staff is kind, responsive, friendly, and they have a great makeup policy. We are enrolled in the Mini 2s class, and the curriculum is fun and builds valuable early swim skills (such as reaching, pulling, grabbing, climbing out of the pool, floating on the back, and kicking) in a developmentally appropriate way.
I’ve also been super impressed with Goldfish’s communication policies. They send out emails with updates regarding not only the facility, but health and safety protocols, and they also communicate quite effectively via text and phone call.
When arriving at the facility, you are asked to wait outside until 5 minutes before your lesson start time. There are markers on the ground to help families remain 6 feet apart while waiting. The entryway is well marked with reminders to mask up, not to attend your lesson if you have any symptoms of COVID or have been in contact with someone who has, to remain 6 feet apart, and other vital information regarding health and safety.
So far, I’ve noticed everyone (staff, parents, and students) has been wearing masks while inside, except while in the pool. Most families wear them outside as well, even when six feet apart.
When it is time for your lesson, a staff member comes outside and screens each child and family individually before calling them inside. A second staff member lets swimmers into the pool area once it is cleared and cleaned.
Masks are not recommended while swimming, per CDC guidance, because they can make it challenging to breathe if wet. Luckily, the swim instructors all wear plastic face shields. Small class sizes also mean social distancing is possible between children in the pool (again, per CDC guidelines). Our class only has one other child (at the moment), and I often see the older children working one on one with swim instructors.
It is also worth noting that the CDC says, “there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of recreational waters.” Equipment is typically not to be used by more than one child per session, and all props are promptly removed from the pool and sanitized after lessons.
Goldfish rotates between equipment sets; when one batch of props is being sanitized, a second, clean set is brought in. Furthermore, sanitizing takes place constantly. Goldfish has a dedicated staff member whose job it is to consistently clean and disinfect surfaces throughout the center). There are also sanitizing buckets in the pool area for all equipment and changing rooms/bathrooms are cleaned after each use.
There are some notable policies related to departure from the center as well. The facility has one way in and one way out. That means there are no crossing paths with those who are leaving as you enter. Masked parents quickly shuttle their children from the pool, out the back door, and back to their cars. Members are also not allowed back into the facility once their lesson is over.
Of course, there is also a lot going on behind the scenes that parents don’t see. Goldfish has a long list of COVID specific health and safety policies, staff screenings upon arrival, new ventilation systems, and more. You can check out the full list here.
But what about my child? Does he like Goldfish? That would be an unequivocal yes. By his second lesson, he was already pulling and kicking. He is excited upon arrival, can’t wait to get into the pool, and doesn’t want to get out when our lesson is over.