HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Cities across Hampton Roads are making adjustments to their lifeguarding schedules due to a shortage of trained lifeguards.
The City of Norfolk says the lifeguard shortage is forcing them to cut their previous hours of 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Community Beach Park to 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
"You only open up what you can open up safely, and that's what you have to be committed to," said Dan Jones, Norfolk's Aquatics division head.
While the Virginia Beach Oceanfront isn't expecting to cut their hours, Tom Gill with the Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service says they are about 10% short of being fully staffed.
He says COVID is partially to blame, as people weren't able to train or become Red Cross CPR certified during the lockdown.
"[There's been] an inability to train over the past two years," Gill explained. "As pools drastically reduced their time, staffing and manpower to provide the teaching, there's been a drain in the training process that's starting to affect us."
The City of Hampton is also having this issue. They are down 10 pool lifeguards and 20 beach lifeguards.
Instead of cutting hours like Norfolk, they are focusing on busier beaches and pools.
The city's Aquatics Manager Bob Manners says Hampton will not have any lifeguards at Salt Ponds this year.
Instead, they'll be moved to Buckroe Beach and Fort Monroe.
Manners says beach lifeguards are harder to find.
"We actually get a lot of people who apply, but they're not qualified," he said. "They have to go through more rigorous testing to be at the beach than at the pools, and it just depends if they're in good enough shape to pass the test."
Manners says Hampton will likely only have one community pool open at a time this year.
Norfolk expects to cut their community pool hours. As of now, Norfolk pools will also be open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"Typically your beach requirements are higher than a swimming pool lifeguard requirement," said Jones. "The physical and training requirements are above and beyond a pool guard."