NEW ORLEANS — The sounds of splashing and laughing won’t be heard at most of New Orleans public pools this summer.
According to the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, only five of the city's 13 outdoor pools will be open this summer because there aren’t enough lifeguards to staff them all.
“It’s a national issue,” NORDC CEO Larry Barbarino Jr. said. “You have swimming pools across the country that aren’t going to be able to open in different cities and states because of the shortage of lifeguards.”
Barbarino said the COVID-19 pandemic is part of the problem, but he’s looking for solutions that are in his control, like increasing paying for lifeguards.
“We’ve increased the wages this summer,” he said. “Past summers it was a little under $12 an hour. Today, we’re paying $15.91 for lifeguards.”
On Monday, only five of New Orleans 13 outdoor pools will be open.
Those five include the St. Bernard Recreation Center, the Stallings Gentilly Playground, the Whitney Young Pool and the Lyons Recreation Center. They’ll be open on Mondays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A pool in Federal City in Algiers will be open Monday through Saturday, since it’s the only pool on the west bank of Orleans Parish. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
The city’s indoor pools, which are open year-round, will remain open through the summer as well.
Barbarino is appealing to the community to help with the lifeguard problem, hoping community members will be inspired to keep their neighborhood pools open.
“Basically, what I’m telling folks is, listen, if you grew up in the city of New Orleans you knew how valuable that community pool is to you,” he said. “Right now is an opportunity to pay it forward. To return and become a lifeguard with NORD.”
The only requirements to apply are that you have to be at least 16-years-old and be able to swim. To apply, you can visit NORDC’s Milneburg officer at 5420 Franklin Avenue or apply online here.