Staff Editorial: Pool season should cover hottest months

Mayor Muriel Bowser and other D.C. officials kicked off the city's pool season with a May 26 event at Banneker Pool in Columbia Heights. (photo courtesy of D.C. government)

In what’s often the height of the District’s muggy summer heat, our outdoor public pools have already begun to shut down for the year. The staggered closures began over the weekend and will continue through early September, with every facility’s season over after Sept. 4.

We have long argued that these closures are inappropriately early. While the District’s elite has traditionally been able to flee in August, the residents who stay behind are often in the greatest need of a no-cost oasis from heat and humidity. And given that summer weather often extends through September, these pools should really be open longer.

The District has historically contended that it’s hard to staff pools after school starts up again for the fall semester, robbing them of their summer lifeguard staff. But we think there’s room for creative thinking. We could accept reduced hours of operation later in the season, perhaps evenings and weekends only. But it just seems like such a pity to leave residents standing hot and sweaty outside a closed fence.

Unseasonably pleasant weather so far this August has muted the normal complaints about early pool closures. But rather than waiting for grumbling to begin anew, we hope that the District will begin preparing now for a longer 2018 season.

In conjunction with that review, we’d also like officials to consider adding some earlier-morning hours. We’ve heard parents of small children complain that their kids are already past the most active part of their day before pools open at 11 a.m. or noon. We think opening at 10 a.m. at least a few days a week would help accommodate such a need.