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Spring Back

2020 was one of the most challenging years for community association managers. Work was busier and more stressful than ever with many of our residents working from home. Although we are still not completely in the clear, it is time to begin our preparations for re-opening of the amenities. With 2020 behind us, we can now look ahead to 2021 and the hopeful re-opening of our amenities. Without a doubt, 2021 will bring its own challenges with the opening of our amenity spaces. But with good planning, you can help get life back to a new normal for your building and its residents.

This year will be completely different for amenity openings. Gyms, for example, are slowly opening with restrictions and pool season will pose a tremendous number of challenges for community managers and boards. While residents are clamoring for amenities to open, there are many different state and federal rules and regulations pertaining to public spaces. Although many community associations are private communities, in some instances the state and federal rules are the only guidelines we have to protect from liabilities. This leaves many difficult decisions to be made.

With so many of our residents still working from home, amenities, and outdoor spaces in 2021 will be in focus more than ever. Residents will need a place that they can escape from their new work from home lifestyle. While many people dreamed of a day that they could work from home, now most cannot wait to be able to get back to the office.

The opening of pools will be more important than ever in 2021. Relying on your professional pool company, association attorney and affiliates like CAI as well as working closely with your local health departments will ensure a smooth opening and successful season. Those that opened pools last season may have been feeling stressful in the beginning, but many say things ended up going much better than anticipated.

You first have to start off with lining up your staff. Ambassadors need to be hired to check residents in and out of the pool areas. Lifeguards are not permitted to check in residents. The ambassador should also be responsible for making sure residents are social distancing and wearing masks where required.

Social distancing will also be a must, marking out social distanced squares around the pool patio will be helpful. Separate entrance and exits if possible, will also be helpful. Directional arrows like what has been used in grocery stores should be used. Sign companies have been busier than ever and can come up with some great ground coverings that can help achieve these goals while keeping a professional aesthetically pleasing look to your facility. You may want to implement a BYOC (Bring Your Own Chair) policy. This will ensure that residents can stay within their groupings.

Cleaning will also be a big component to a healthy pool opening. You will want to be sure there are clear cleaning hours set in place for your facility. You may want to shut down
the pool area mid-day and have the area completely cleared out for a full cleaning of the facility. If you are using in house staff for cleaning, be sure to document the procedures each day so there is a record. Use chemicals that are safe for the public and within the CDC guidelines.

Limits on the number of residents allowed in the pool area will be based on the size of the actual pool itself. Use the mid-day cleaning to allow for those residents who could not get in for the early slot to get into the late day slot. Those residents who were in the pool and had to leave for cleaning should be asked to go to the back of the line if they would like to re-enter.

Limiting the number of guests will also be important so residents can enjoy the pool without having to wait in lines if others have guests. By the time pool season kicks off hopefully there will be far less restrictions bearing no additional obstacles. Preparing in advance and setting a clear policy will be particularly important in communicating to your residents as to why
and the costs of these measures.

All these items will also lead to added costs. With snow budgets blown and the possibility of early winter snow next season, associations will need to consider if these added protections are worth the cost to the association to open the pool. If you cannot absorb the cost of a snow removal overage, consider a snow assessment. Snow assessments, since they are tangible to residents, are generally more well received.

In closing, residents have been cooped up for far too long and, despite the cost for opening the pools and other amenities this season, it may go a long way in making people feel normal again. 2020 coupled with this brutal winter weather has morale extremely low, everything is a 10 right now. Providing a peaceful, clean space for residents to enjoy will certainly help in fostering a harmonious living environment for our communities. To accomplish this, you will need to plan accordingly and consult with your professionals and legal counsel to ensure that appropriate procedures and guidelines are implemented