JERSEY CITY – On Sunday, Jessica Taube and her 8 year old daughter Gabriella were in the echo of splashes and organized swimming lessons.
Taube is one of the many parents whose children took the first Sunday swim class in the Pershing Field indoor pool, which returned on March 15 and was previously stopped due to COVID-19 restrictions. She told the Jersey Journal that the city’s recreational programs, such as Sunday’s, helped her and her family get through the pandemic.
“I think (the city) did a good job,” said Taube. “Children need things to do, but the rules should still be strict.”
On March 9th, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop announced that the city’s recreational and youth development programs would be “safely resumed” by the week of March 15th. Recreational programs run through May 27 and include basketball, soccer, athletics and tennis, skateboarding, bucket drumming, and swimming.
On Sunday, Gabriella was part of the “learn to swim” class at 10:30 am and Taube said her daughter was “excited” to be back at the pool.
Meanwhile, Taube was a little nervous when she got back – especially since those in the pool are being advised not to wear a mask, according to the CDC – but she said that when she and her daughter were there, she felt more comfortable.
“I’m still on top of her to keep myself safe and (to keep my distance),” she said.
Visitors are required to wear a mask on deck and walk around the building, said Lucinda McLaughlin, the director of the city’s Department of Recreation and Youth Development. Upon entering the facility, visitors are asked if they have symptoms listed on a poster and their temperatures are taken.
Nicolas Renaud was another parent at the Pershing Field Pool on Sunday. He agreed, saying that his children were in need of recreational activities and that the city had done a “great” job resuming its programs.
His 8-year-old son Ulysse was part of the “Learn to Swim” course at 8:30 am and later spent time skating on the facility’s ice rink. His two other children, Anae (6) and Celeste (4), were part of the “Preschool Aquatics” class.
“The children have to interact,” said Renaud. “… (The city) is doing what it can.”
He also credited the city with creating programs for specific age groups so that every child could be included.
Pre-registration is required for all programs and clinics at jcrec.recdesk.com. All participants must provide their own equipment and comply with social distancing rules.
The city’s Spring Forward 2021 outdoor sports clinic has a comprehensive schedule of days and times by age.
“People are looking for a safe reason to come back,” McLaughlin told the Jersey Journal.
Previous clinics included outdoor pools from September to November and outdoor soccer in December.
McLaughlin added that recreational activities are vital for the child and that because of the response to the programs, the department feels they are just as important to the youth.
On Sunday all swimming courses were fully booked. The capacity for each class is nine children. Anyone under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian in the pool.
The city’s summer camps will also return in six locations: Berry Lane Park, Enos Jones Park, Bayside Park, Martucci Field, Pershing Field and Thomas McGovern Park.
Taube’s daughter Gabriella is registered for two weeks of summer camp and has already participated in other programs in the city such as soccer. Renaud’s children previously attended the tennis clinic.
Fulop also announced that the Youth Works program will focus on outdoor jobs in the city’s two public swimming pools, six summer camps and various sports leagues. The Department of Recreation and Youth Development works with the Department of Parks to maintain parks and ensure safe, clean spaces.
“We are making progress towards a return to normal, which is particularly important for our youth,” Fulop said in a statement.