November 11, 2021
The board met Wednesday to talk about the city’s new vaccine mandate and next steps for the club.
We are pleased to comply with the city’s mandate and it appears this new rule will have only a minor impact on the club for now.
- Note: if this email is too long, just call me: 867-446-1432.
As users of a city facility, all swim club members over the age of 18 will be required to show proof of vaccination to enter the pool, and the club will be responsible for monitoring this. Registrar JF Dufour and myself, Sara Minogue, have volunteered to come up with a policy that will allow us to gather this information without intruding on the privacy of our members.
The city policy leaves it up to sports organizations who are governed by national and territorial (or provincial) sport organizations to decide whether to require proof of vaccination from children 12 to 18.
The board decided not to do this right now, with a plan to revisit this decision once we know how many people the city/chief public health officer will allow at the pool with the new vaccine mandate. We expect this may not happen before Christmas.
Why little will change at the pool
Even with the new vaccine mandate, our club is still operating under special rules relating to the Oct. 22 public health order restricting gatherings in Yellowknife.
That means children arrive in swimsuits, wear masks on deck, and swim in cohorts, and parents cannot enter the pool. This plan is in line with Swim Alberta and Swimming Canada and is very similar to how we operated all last year.
To be specific: we were operating as part of the city’s application to the chief public health officer to vary from the Oct. 22 order. This allowed us to have 35 people at the pool until we learned that we would no longer be part of the city’s application, which is why, right now we are at max 25 people in the pool, and why we’ve had to cancel some swims.
On Nov. 4, we resubmitted another application to vary, which will again allow us to have 35 kids in the pool, again spelling out our safe swimming plan. We are awaiting results on this, which may take longer as the city has just filed a new application to vary outlining their vaccine mandate.
We can revisit this number once we learn how many people the city is allowing in the pool. However, the 35 number is currently working for our club. This year we have almost 65 swimmers, close to our usual club size of 75.
Are our kids safe?
Our return to swimming plan — the one we’ve been using since last year — is based on best practices from Swim Alberta.
Swim Alberta led a study in the second half of 2020 to monitor these practices. It followed 5,446 swimmers from 73 clubs from June to November and found that of the 14 cases reported in that time, there were zero transmissions of COVID-19 within the cohort swimming model. (Find the link to the study, which was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, here.)
Do we need a vaccine mandate for 12-18-year-olds?
While the board felt this was not crucial at this time, we’d like to hear from members.
Please email [email protected] and indicate if you think YES, we need proof of vaccination from our 12-18-year-olds, or NO, we don’t need proof-of-vaccination from our 12-18-year-olds.
Please note that anyone over 12 who is travelling to a swim meet in the South will need proof of vaccination to fly. These athletes will also need proof of vaccination, or a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Alberta pools. Pools in B.C. also require proof of vaccination.
Many youth sports groups in town are already requiring proof of vaccination from this age group.
Recreational swimmers in Yellowknife who are over 12 will also be required to show proof of vaccination.
When is swimming going to be fun?
If you, like me, were imagining swim meets with parents and kids all over the pool deck after the city’s vaccine mandate was approved… I’m sorry to disappoint you!
Even with the mandate, we remain in unusual circumstances. We do not expect to be allowed to hold meets until the new year (by applying for another application to vary). However, we are hoping to have time trials in December, following new Swim Alberta rules that require fewer volunteer officials on deck.
Fun events, like a swimming party for all the kids, will depend on the number of COVID-19 cases in our community, the approved capacity at the pool and again, permission to vary from the current public health order.
We’ll get there!