Aqua-Tots Swim Schools reopen for lessons amid COVID-19 pandemic

Our world has changed, but water safety remains the same, and swim lessons are one of the most important ways to keep kids safe around the thousands of pools in the Valley.

Before local swim school, Aqua-Tots, reopened its doors, changes were made, including new safety protocols to keep both kids and parents safe in the water, like the "Safety of Circle" program.

"Some of the ones you might see are we've got customers entering one end of the building and exiting the other, so we create one-way traffic," Jamie Cartledge said. "We have enhanced cleaning procedures, sanitizing stations around. Our instructors are using the whole pool for swim lessons and then there's also social spacing the kids in each of the lessons so we can limit kid-to-kid contact."

Before returning to work, swim instructors were required to get 32 hours on the new safety protocols.

The swim school will also disinfect any pool equipment that the kids use and during lessons, instructors will wear protective gear.

"Our face shields are great because you can still see your instructor's face and all their facial expressions, which makes the kids feel comfortable," Cartledge said.

Although the new safety guidelines are meant to keep everyone safe, Aqua-Tots says the kids should hardly notice a difference.

"We've adjusted some of our holes so that teacher and student contact is never face-to-face, but besides that, the kids really shouldn't see much of a difference," Cartledge said.

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

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Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough, and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus, but may put you in a better position to fight it.

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.