JERSEY CITY — On Sunday, amidst the echo of splashes and organized swim lessons, were Jessica Taube and her 8-year-old daughter, Gabriella.
Taube is one of the many parents whose children participated in the first Sunday swim class at the indoor Pershing Field pool, which returned on March 15 and was previously halted due to COVID-19 restrictions. She told The Jersey Journal that the city’s recreational programs, like Sunday’s, have helped her and her family get through the pandemic.
“I think (the city’s) done a good job,” Taube said. “Kids need things to do, but the rules should still stay strict.”
On March 9, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop announced that the city’s recreation and youth development programs were set to “safely resume” the week of March 15. The recreational programs will run until May 27 and include basketball, soccer, track & field, tennis, skateboarding, bucket drumming and swimming.
On Sunday, Gabriella was part of the 10:30 a.m. “Learn to Swim” class, and Taube said her daughter was “excited” to be back at the pool.
Meanwhile, Taube was a little nervous to return — especially since those in the pool are advised not to wear a mask, according to the CDC — but she said once her and her daughter were there, she felt more comfortable.
“I’m still on top of her to back up and (keep distance),” she said.
Visitors are required to wear a mask while on deck and walking around the building, said Lucinda McLaughlin, the director of the city’s Department of Recreation & Youth Development. When entering the facility, visitors are asked if they have any symptoms that are listed on a poster and their temperatures are taken.
Nicolas Renaud was another parent at the Pershing Field pool on Sunday. He agreed and said his children needed the recreational activities again and that the city did a “great” job with resuming its programs.
His 8-year-old son, Ulysse, was part of the 8:30 a.m. “Learn to Swim” class and later spent time skating at the facility’s skating rink. His other two children, Anae, 6, and Celeste, 4, were part of the “Pre-school Aquatics” lesson.
“The kids need to be interacting,” Renaud said. “… (The city) is doing what they can.”
He also credited the city for creating programs for certain age groups so every child can be included.
Pre-registration is required for all programs and clinics at jcrec.recdesk.com. All participants must provide their own equipment and adhere to social distancing rules.
The city’s 2021 Spring Forward Outdoor Sports Clinic has a comprehensive schedule with days and times according to age.
“People are looking for a safe reason to return,” McLaughlin told The Jersey Journal.
Previous clinics included outdoor swimming pools from September to November and outdoor soccer during December.
McLaughlin added that recreational activities are vital to being a kid, and that seeing the response to the programs makes the department feel that they’re as important to the youth.
On Sunday, all swimming classes were fully booked. The capacity for each class is nine children. Anyone under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian present and in the pool.
The city’s summer camps are also set to return at 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 the city’s other programs like soccer. Renaud’s children previously participated in the tennis clinic.
Fulop also announced that the Youth Works program will focus on outdoor jobs at the city’s two public pools, six summer camps and various sports leagues. The Department of Recreation & Youth Development are partnering with the Division of Parks for park maintenance and to ensure safe, clean spaces.
“We are making strides towards a return to normalcy, which is particularly critical for our youth,” Fulop said in a statement.