Tougher Pool Rules Could Lead Schools To Abandon Swim Instruction

Tougher Pool Rules Could Lead Schools To Abandon Swim Instruction

This is happening all over the country with the advent of increased public swimming pool regulation.

via hartford courant


A bill mandating more stringent safety requirements for school swimming programs could wind up putting more children at risk, a physical education supervisor told lawmakers Thursday.

That’s because tougher rules, such as increased staffing and training requirements, could lead some school systems to abandon their swim instruction programs due to a lack of money.

“If these and other such recommendations become uniform policy, districts may be compelled to abandon aquatics altogether,” said Joseph Gorman, supervisor of health and physical education for Waterbury schools. “We fear that such a scenario would leave thousands of students at risk.”

The legislature’s public safety and security committee held a public hearing Thursday on a bill to establish statewide swim safety policies in public schools following the drownings of two students in swim classes last year.

The lack of statewide safety standards came under scrutiny after the deaths of Manchester High freshman Malvrick Donkor in November. In January 2012,15-year-old Marcum Asiamah drowned during swim class at East Hartford High School.

The bill under consideration by the committee would establish a uniform policy regarding school pool safety “to reduce the loss of life or injury related to swimming at public schools.”

It does not specify what those policies should be. But increasing the number of staff at pools and mandating a higher level of training, two ideas mentioned at the hearing, would impose new costs on school districts.

“I am very concerned… about the mandate,” said Sen. Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury and a co-chairwoman of the committee. “You all heard the budget yesterday.”

Instead of requiring more staff, Gorman suggested the state adopt the standard that has long been in place in Waterbury: having one person certified by the American Red Cross as a lifeguard present at the pool at all times.

“If there is one recommendation that I would make to you above and beyond all others, it is that one,” he said. “You don’t necessarily need to have five or six people in there to maintain a specific ratio, but you do need a trained professional lifeguard who hopefully in a school setting is going to be a certified teachers.”