started this petition to
CHILDREN LEARNING TO SWIM DURING COVID-19 EPIDEMIC:
In the below document we wish to highlight the importance of the swimming industry to return to operate. Below we have listed the statistical facts of drowning in South Africa. We will also highlight the measures that will be taken in order to return to teaching this valuable skill now and how if the below is followed not to contribute towards the spreading of COVID-19 in South Africa.
The reality is that COVID-19 is here, it is a reality and we all need to play our part to stop the spreading but it doesn’t make our children of South Africa any less at risk of drowning.
Did you know that drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in South Africa after road accident. Half of drowning accidents occur in and around the home in buckets, bathtubs and swimming pools. [S Fisher, 2017]
According to the World Health Organisation African region fatal drowning in South Africa is 3.0 per 100 000 population. [L Isaacs 2018] Drowning is serious and fatal drownings is the fifth leading cause of unintentional death in our country. Drowning rates are the highest amount with children between 0-4 years. Children under the age of 15 years old accounts for 30.2% of all fatal drowning in our country and the highest mortality rate occurring in children under the age of 5 year old. [Western Cape Gov, 2019]
The scariest thing is that, according to Kieno Kammies, most drowning takes place in the home or within 50 metres of home (This is not just swimming pools but washing buckets, bathtubs and other danger zones.) With the above being said we believe that learning to swim should be brought to the table and seen as a very essential industry within our country. We believe that this industry should be allowed to return sooner rather than later. With children being at home all day, the risk of them wondering off and with boredom setting in the risk is even higher. Swimming is not like other sport activities. Swimming is a skill that is taught that could potentially save a child’s life.
It is a life skill, meaning that during formal swimming lessons children are taught to respect and understand water (Water Awareness) and how to save themselves when they fall in (Water Safety)
Teaching swimming is a calling, it is a specialised profession & unfortunately it is not something that can be done at home. Swimming teachers spend endless amounts of hours in the pool; building relationships and getting each child they teach to a position where they are firstly water aware & water safe. Swimming Teachers are unsung heroes!
See below the possible repercussions of delaying the opening of swim schools in South Africa, in fact, throughout the world:
• The biggest issue is the risk of additional drowning to increase lives lost within SA on top of the current high statistics.
• 2021 Grade 1 Learners not ready to fall within most schools’ requirements which is needing to know how to swim.
• Possible liquidation of swim schools due to the high overheads (including rent, electricity, maintenance and water)
If these recommended safety measures and protocols are put into place the risk of transmission is very low.
Please note that we are referring to the teaching of this life skill and swim schools that operate in private facilities with no direct public access.
Safety Measures and Prevention:
• Teachers will teach with face guard’s at all times. This will completely block out the chances of transmission between teacher and swimmers if used correctly.
• Any staff members needed outside of the pool must be kept to a minimum and should wear material face-masks at all times.
• Class sizes should be reduced based on pool size and space around the pool to maintain social distancing.
• A 5 minute rule to be implemented for parents to arrive before and leave after lessons.
• Seating should be arranged to promote social distancing within the swim school.
• Clear signage will be displayed within the swim schools on where parents can and cannot sit, where the hand sanitiser is etc.
• Any play areas should be removed in order discourage interaction or hanging around before or after lessons.
• All patrons must wear material masks.
• All patrons must hand sanitise (60-95% alcohol) on arrival and departure.
• Strict cleaning protocol before, between and after lessons will be implemented using alcohol based products. Surfaces like doorknobs, tables, countertops, kitchen areas, electronics, desks, toys, play frames in the play areas, handrails etc will be regularly disinfected and or cleaned.
• Rules and protocol to be displayed at entrances of swim schools.
• Use of non-contact methods of greeting.
• Office staff (if able to) should work from home or away from the parents and swimmers.
• One parent per child rule. No outside spectators are allowed to attend.
• Older swimmers in squad or stroke correction classes should be strictly drop & go.
• Teachers & Staff must have their temperature checked daily.
• Parents must be informed & reminded to not bring swimmers who are feeling ill or who are showing any sick symptoms.
• Individuals not adhering to safety and preventative measures mentioned will not be allowed at any swim school premises.
• Teachers & Staff to be trained on the following precautions and safety measures.
• Pool chlorine levels (1-4ppm) should be monitored in order to make sure it is acting as an effective disinfectant. (Chlorine is a highly effective disinfectant and while maintained at the proper levels there is no evidence that it can be transmitted within the pool.)
• Swimmers with pre-existing medical conditions should not attend lessons or swim venues.
[Reported by CDC on the 10 March 2020] there is no evidence that the virus which causes COVID-19 can be spread through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfectant (e.g. with chlorine or bromine) of pools and hot tubs should inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.
We wish our industry not to be classified as something that will only be phased in at Level 1 of the SA lockdown mandate but rather allow us to return to teaching this life skill. We feel that the risk is far higher of contracting the virus by allowing South Africans going to shops for groceries or retail. We are in an environment which we can control.
Please let us return to work.