The Chicago Parks District announced Tuesday that less than half its pools would open next Tuesday, July 5, amid a lifeguard shortage that had already delayed public pool openings.
Only 37 out of the 77 public pools will open, given that the district has only hired 55% of the number of qualified seasonal lifeguards it had hoped to secure. Most of the pools will be open five days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The 37 pools include a15 indoor and 22 outdoor pools, based on many factors like geographical location, pool conditions, staffing needs, historical usage, capacity and access to public transportation, according to the district.
Four bigger pools — at Portage Park, Humboldt Park, McKinley Park and Norwood Park — will open to allow for more visitors. Smaller pools across the city will open to allow for Chicagoans to access safe swim options within 2 miles of their homes, according to the Park District.
“Despite the many challenges we’ve faced hiring lifeguards, including the national shortage, we have not given up and remain committed to a pool opening plan rooted in safety first,” said General Superintendent Rosa Escareño. “Neighborhood pools are incredibly valuable resources for our residents and families, providing recreation and relief from the summer heat.”
In order to ensure neighborhood pools are properly staffed, the district will limit access to and swimming in certain beaches, including North Avenue Beach, Calumet Beach and 12th Street Beach. This will allow the district to reassign 23 to 25 lakefront lifeguards to public pools.
The Park District is still hiring lifeguards and offering incentives to attract more applicants. While the current hourly wage for district lifeguards is $15.88, a $600 bonus would bring the wage up to $17.08 an hour, according to its website.
Other incentives include a $500 bonus for district employees who refer candidates to work as lifeguards during the summer. The city residency requirement will be waived for qualified seasonal lifeguards and they’ll have a chance to secure a job for the rest of the year after the summer ends.
A complete list of the 37 pools that will open after the long Fourth of July weekend is available on the Park District’s website.