Missoula Splash Decks Will Probably Remain Closed All Summer
This is pretty unfortunate - especially with the hot weather we've had lately. Once Splash Montana and Currents were able to open their doors, the hope was that outdoor splash decks in Missoula would be able to follow. But the latest update from Missoula Parks & Rec paints a bleak picture for the chance of having splash decks functional before the end of summer.
The biggest holdup continues to be splash decks being classified as pools - and in order to reopen they have to meet the same standards as swimming pools do. To make it simple to understand, they can't just turn the water on because there's no way to ensure social distancing or prevent groups of more than 50 people from gathering. They would need to fence off the splash decks and have staff on hand at each location.
A Montana Right Now article includes thoughts on the difficulty of it all from Missoula Parks and Recreation Aquatics Manager Eric Seagrave: "Where do those 50 kids go? They're going to go on the playground and play on the swings, and the sets, And what are the 50 kids doing that are waiting to come in? They're on the playground, so we do all this to separate them, but they're all mixed, you know out in the park!"
It looks like the only hope of having splash decks functional would be if Montana moved to Phase 3 of reopening. But with confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the rise, that seems unlikely before the end of summer.
The following is the latest splash deck update from the Parks & Rec department on the City of Missoula Website:
Update July 28, 2020: Splash Decks and Spray Pools remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions
Parks and Recreation regrets to announce that splash decks and spray pools in area parks will remain closed. Due to stringent COVID-19 restrictions ordered by the state and local public health authorities, and in light of rising infection rates, staffing shortages, and budgetary constraints, Parks officials have determined that opening these facilities is not feasible at this time.
Instead, we have focused on high-quality programs and services, while instituting COVID prevention best practices, at Splash, Currents, and summer camps and sports where distancing and other protocols can be met effectively.
Families who need financial assistance can receive punch cards or passes to swim at Splash Montana or Currents, call 721-PARK or visit this link for more information.
- The state Department of Public Health and Human Services and Missoula City-County Health have determined that the stringent COVID-19 swimming pool regulations also apply to splash decks.
- Some of those COVID-19 regulations include frequent sanitation of all surfaces, masks required where physical distancing is not possible, and group sizes of no more than 50 people. Pods of 50 may not intermingle—a factor that’s almost impossible to control outdoors in a public park.
- To control access, Parks would have to fence off each splash deck and staff the pools daily. The department would also be required to install hand-washing stations and require masks where physical distancing is not possible.
- If the state should move to Phase 3 reopening this summer, Parks will reevaluate the feasibility of opening splash decks and spray pools.