We are writing to express our deep disagreement with the University of Georgia’s decision to close Legion Pool again this summer.
According to the official announcement posted on the UGA Tate Student Center website, the decision to close the pool is based on current CDC guidelines, the “persisting numbers of COVID-19 infections” and a lack of knowledge about the trajectory the pandemic will take.
The university’s reasoning behind keeping Legion Pool closed is irrational and at variance with its decisions to open other, less-safe UGA recreational facilities this semester. According to the CDC, there is currently no scientific evidence that the virus can spread to people “through the water in pools, hot tubs, water playgrounds or other treated aquatic venues.”
While there are still risks associated with any group activity, those risks are greatly reduced in outdoor, spacious settings. Given Legion’s layout, coupled with increased vaccination rates and the declining number of cases, Legion Pool is at least as safe an environment as most of UGA’s facilities and activities which have been open this spring, such as indoor tennis events, basketball games, gymnastics and the indoor pools at the Ramsey Center.
UGA should recognize the vital role Legion Pool plays within the Athens community. There is a paucity of outdoor pools in the area, and the closing of Legion will negatively impact a significant number of Athens residents. Hundreds of faculty, staff and students, as well as the community at large, enjoy Legion Pool. Many local organizations and camps, such as Extra Special People, use the pool as well, and those campers will suffer without it this summer.
The faculty and staff who have kept UGA running during the pandemic need every opportunity to regain a sense of normalcy and the opportunity for healthy recreation — especially in a group setting. UGA should do their part to help make this happen. Legion Pool is the perfect place to reconnect safely after a long year of social distancing. Opening Legion Pool would provide a much needed thank you to the faculty, staff and community for the way we’ve pulled together to complete a successful academic year, despite extremely challenging circumstances.
Not only is it now safe to open Legion Pool, but it should also be considered a necessary respite for the good of the community. Our petition has already received more than 600 signatures and counting. It is urgent that the university reverses its decision and agrees to open Legion Pool soon, as it takes time to prepare it for the summer.
It’s been a terrible year. Legion Pool needs to open.