Last Updated: February 3, 2023
Chicago Blue Dolphins pledges to keep your health and your family’s health its number one priority as we move into the later stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic has moved into a “new normal” stage, we’ve relaxed some of the pre-cautions that we had during the throes of the pandemic in 2020-21. This page will keep you up to date on where we stand on our COVID-19 and general health strategy.
The remaining areas that we are keeping from our original COVID-19 strategy to reduce this risk fall into five categories:
- Vaccination Policy
- Masking Policy
- Social Distancing
Chicago Blue Dolphins requires all of its employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and to stay up to date with all vaccination boosters. We strongly recommend that employees also get an annual flu vaccine. We work in close contact with one another and with our students, so we feel it’s the best strategy to maintain a healthy workforce.
We do not require any of our students or caregivers to be vaccinated to take classes at the Blue Dolphin Swim Studio. At this time, our external facilities at the University of Illinois at Chicago do not require patrons to be vaccinated.
We continue to require masks at the Swim Studio despite the fact that the city and state have lifted any requirements. We understand that we are one of the few businesses that are maintaining mask requirements, but we are doing it for a couple of reasons:
- A Significant Majority of our Staff Requested It: We work in a face-to-face and direct physical contact business. Many of our coaches and office staff have been with us since the start of the pandemic, and they are still concerned about getting COVID or other illnesses. Even if masking has only a slight effect on disease transmission, our staff will feel more comfortable in this very interpersonal job. Our leadership team has taken the approach throughout the pandemic to listen to our staff. This approach has built strong bonds as a team and has reduced turnover. Lower turnover rates benefit everyone including our students and families.
- A COVID Outbreak can have a Serious Impact on our Business Operations: The guidelines for isolation haven’t changed even if disease transmission is down. Unlike many businesses, our coaches are not fully interchangeable. We are a business where our students build bonds with particular coaches. We also run classes for a large range of ages and skill levels, and every coach might not be trained to teach all classes. Finally, the disease can and has spread across multiple staff members. When a coach or a set of coaches are out for 5 or more days, we run the risk of having to cancel a large number of classes. To repeat what we said above, if masking reduces this risk even by the slightest amount, it leads to a higher level of service for our students and families.
Our masking policy for anyone entering the Swim Studio, student, parent, or observer, is therefore:
- All patrons over the age of 2 must wear masks when in the Swim Studio and not in the pools
- Parents in Infant-Toddler classes will need to wear masks while in the pool. We have clear, plastic face shields at the front desk instead if you have trouble keeping your mask dry during class and it’s making it hard to breathe
If you forget your mask, we will have disposable masks for you to use at our front desk.
While the vaccines have reduced the extent of our social distancing policies, our Swim Studio and its bathrooms are not large, so we strongly suggest the following standard to keep our facility from getting over-crowded:
- Dress for the Lesson — To reduce bottlenecks in the bathrooms, we ask our families to dress for the lesson and do a “deck change” before getting into the pool
- Use the Deck Shower and Locker Room Showers to RINSE ONLY after the Lesson –Limit shower usage to rinsing only after lessons to keep your showers under 2 minutes in duration. If everyone assumes that they will do a full soap and shampoo of themselves and all of their kids, the wait times will explode and the changing areas will turn into a rave.
- Do Quick Changes in the Changing Rooms — After the lesson, you can use the changing areas to get out of your wet clothes. We ask you to be quick when changing to keep bottlenecks from occurring in the bathrooms.
- All Students and Caregivers should continue to Wash or Sanitize Hands — One of the simplest protections against virus transmission is clean hands. We’ll have hand sanitizer throughout the facility. You can also use the soap and sinks in the bathrooms to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds
- Use the Deck Shower to Rinse BEFORE the Lesson — Pre-lesson rinses at the deck shower will help keep our bromine levels up by reducing body oils, dirt, or lotions in our pools
- Do Not Eat or Drink in the Swim Studio — Please refrain from snacking or eating in the Swim Studio
- Cleaning Zones — We have broken the Swim Studio into 5 cleaning zones. We will perform cleaning and sanitizing at opening, mid-day, closing, and throughout the day for high-traffic areas (e.g., bathrooms)
- Multiple Toy and Equipment Sets — We will regularly clean our toys and equipment to reduce the posibility of disease tranmission.