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Lifeguard shortage delays pools opening

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    OVERLAND PARK, Kansas (KCTV) — Most outdoor swimming pools have remained closed for well over a year now.

While some will start filling up in the next few days, several will not reopen in 2021.

The reason is staffing. There is a shortage of lifeguards to watch the pools, made worse by the pandemic.

The City of Overland Park announced this month that it would only reopen three of its six outdoor aquatic centers this summer, citing the shortage as a reason.

Renee Reis, the director of the city’s aquatics centers, said part of the issue is that pools can’t rely on their normal supply of returning employees, since pools closed last year.

“We kind of have to start from zero,” Reis said.

Local YMCAs have dozens of open positions, too. Sadie Birchard, who oversees the pools at several local branches, said they’re encouraging their staff to refer friends and family who might want a part time job.

“We’ll teach you teach you CPR, first aid, and give you three to four days of lifeguard training,” she said.

Lifeguards typically make near minimum wage, but many consider still consider it a good first job with flexible hours and a lot of time in the sun.

“It’s not just sitting in a chair,” Birchard said. “You’re saving people’s lives.”

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