School may be back but not for swim pupils at Flyers Swim School in Stratford.

The school, organised by Aimee Woodhead, is on a temporary hiatus while health and safety requirements are met.

In May's Audit and Risk council meeting councillors received a health and safety report from Council health and safety adviser Mario Bestall.

Mario told the committee the swim school was unable to operate until the requirements are met.

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"There has been a particular issue of concern regarding the operation of the swim school in that they haven't yet met Council process."

Deadlines to have the paperwork completed had been set before Covid-19 took hold in the country he said.

"We have been in daily conversations with the operator of the swim school."

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The pool has now reopened after being closed under Covid-19 restrictions but the lessons would not resume yet, he said.

"Learn to swim will not restart until Council receives the needed documentation and that documentation meets our expectations."

Flyers Swim Squad swimmers are able to get back in the water however, said Sven Hanne, Stratford District Council chief executive.

"There is less risk with the competitive swim squad so we have allowed those to restart as the paperwork they provided allowed for that. It was a bit of a compromise but they do provide a community service in a way and we didn't want to stop that. It is a practical approach we have taken."

Mayor Neil Volzke said he support the stance taken regarding the requirement for health and safety standards to be met.

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"However, I do have questions around the standards themselves. My understanding is the documentation requested is the Pool Safe Standards but not all pools subscribe to the same regulations. Is our approach justifiable?"

Sven said the requirements were appropriate for the pool in question.

"Other Councils, including New Plymouth, have used different standards. Bigger organisations might set their own criteria but as a smaller facility we have chosen to use standards set by an external provider being Pool Safe. If we didn't use those ones we would have to come up with our own criteria which would increase the workload on our staff as we would have to audit it ourselves as well."

Committee chair Kura Denness said she believed it was important Council insisted on the accreditation before lessons restart.

"In fairness to our ratepayers, I feel they have an assumption of safety when using a Council-owned pool. While the provider is external a ratepayer may assume they are safe because it is a Council location. If something goes wrong it would be Council that had to answer. I think our approach is correct."

Aimee Woodhead says she is currently working with Council to complete the required paperwork so swim pupils can get back to their lessons.

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"Covid-19 obviously caused some delays in the paperwork for us."

Council has been supportive in the assistance given to help get pupils back in the water she says.

"My point of view is that Council wants us back in the water as much as we do ourselves. They are helping us make sure we do things properly rather than rush though the process."

Aimee says the issue isn't of safety but paperwork.

"The children's safety has never been a query. This is just about having things correctly documented."

Safety has always been important to the team she says, and this hasn't changed.

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"The Flyers have always maintained our Health and Safety as we are in a position with high level of trust from the community and that is never far from my mind. Not just with our swimmers but also in looking after my staff."

The documentation now being put together is simply a way of formalising what was already being done, Aimee says.

"We had internal processes a long time before the Council's requirements came into play, and the staff cover Health and Safety before each term commenced at our staff internal training sessions we run each holidays."

Aimee says the swim school and Flyers squad have been held up as good examples of practice in the past.

"Swim NZ representatives have come to our meets and said they use our swim school as a good example for others to follow."

While Aimee is looking forward to getting her swim pupils back into the water, she says going through the process has been a positive experience overall.

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"Our work with the Council has been an interesting experience as it has enabled us to formalise our standards better and adjust them to Council requirements.

"The process has also highlighted that for myself and my staff; our passion is working poolside with our students. My energy is best used supporting my swimmers to enjoy and love the water environment and I have employed an independent contractor to oversee the streamlining of the process and procedure upgrades."

Pupils won't have much longer to wait before they can return to their lessons she says.

"Ongoing staff training is still happening and everything required by the Council is now complete. I'm also excited about further refining our systems, as we work towards a web-based platform. Upgrades will take some time to develop, so we've ticked the boxes for the Council in the meantime but expect the new system to provide industry-leading practices going forward."

Disclosure: Ilona Hanne is married to the CEO of Stratford District Council.