PLANO, Texas - This Memorial Day weekend, many North Texas cities are preparing to open their swimming pools back at full capacity for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But many cities are having to limit the hours or days their pools are open because of a lifeguard shortage.
"Everything is going well. We are ready to work get activities back, open pools, and to not be able to do that fully is very frustrating," said Susie Hergenrader, Plano Parks and Recreation manager.
She said the pandemic is still having a ripple effect.
"Had reduction in swim lessons because we don't have as many teachers applying to teach," she explained.
Hergenrader hoped applications would increase with the CDC's relaxed guidelines, but it hasn't happened.
"We continue to advertise and post, but there is a hesitancy and reluctance to work this summer," she added.
Plano is not alone.
Other cities that will have reduced hours or some pools closed include: Irving, Grand Prairie, Richardson, and McKinney, although McKinney's pool closure is due to winter storm repairs.
Cities with delayed openings due to longer school schedules include: Garland, Dallas, and Fort Worth.
Arlington and Frisco pools are opening with their standard pre-pandemic hours.
"In my 18 years, we have not seen this kind of shortage before. We rely on high school and college students," said Chris Ginapp, with Grand Prairie Parks, Arts, Recreation Department.
Ginapp said Grand Prairie natatorium would normally already be open all day, but due to the staffing shortage, it is only open mornings and evenings.
And the city has half the number of lifeguards it normally would.
"Haven't been able to go to job fairs with high schools. We rely on high school students, maybe they aren't ready to get back to work," Ginapp added.
Richardson has continued to struggle despite raising starting pay by $2 an hour, to $11.50 an hour.
Hergenrader said closed pools in Plano last summer, along with canceled training and certification classes, are likely big contributing factors.
"It is like starting all over to build up that pool of employees who stay year after year," she said.
Grand Prairie is hiring both summer and year round positions at a job fair next Sat from 10-2 people will be hired on the spot.