CHICAGO (CBS) — Pools and swim schools are open with restrictions during Illinois’ Phase 4 of the coronavirus pandemic reopening plan.

But workers at popular swim school in Chicago said they are worried about their safety and their students – and some of them even walked off the job.

As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported Monday night, some of the instructors at Big Blue Swim School’s North Center location, at 4207 N. Western Ave., have chosen not to work at the school right now for health and safety’s sake. They reached out to us with a laundry list of concerns.

“I can’t see how we stay open,” one staffer said.

One of those concerns is the possibility of a backlash, so you will not see the employees’ faces and their names are not being used.

“To potentially put children at risk?” the staffer said. “That’s a whole other story.”

“We’re not wearing masks,” another staffer said. “The kids aren’t wearing masks, and they’re right next to each other.”

The employees claim they weren’t notified of two co-workers’ positive COVID-19 tests right away.

“Everyone was there for the entire day,” an employee said. “They didn’t close down to sanitize. They didn’t close down an area to sanitize.”

The employees brought up how often workers are actually cleaning between lessons.

“The things that we are doing are not up to the standard,” the employee said.

They also raised concerns about the safety of the products being used on equipment – namely how the surface disinfectant CaviCide is being used.

“We dilute it. We spray it on things. And we put that directly on the kid,” an employee said.

They’re all concerns they say instructors brought up with management, who suggested workers who don’t feel safe take unpaid leave.

But the workers told Molina what they really want is simple.

“Enforce their own guidelines,” an employee said.

Molina brought all of this to Big Blue Swim School directly. A school representative said seven staff members decided to take a leave of absence, but some of those people are back at work.

The swim school went on to address every concern line by line, explaining they followed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and state guidelines when workers tested positive. The school said they created social distancing and safety guidelines that they claim exceed recommendations, use only approved cleaning products, and have a special filtration system in the pool and through their HVAC system:

The statement also said the school recently passed its city inspections, one of them with flying colors.

Molina followed up with the city to confirm and found the school is full compliance right now, with its only violation being a missing children’s services license:


“”The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) takes all complaints extremely seriously, which is why we continue to not only respond to complaints but also conduct proactive investigations for restaurants, bars and other business establishments to ensure full compliance with the phase four reopening guidelines. In response to a constituent complaint, the Department issued enforcement for license issues on July 27th. The Department will continue to respond to all complaints to further ensure the health and safety of all Chicago residents.”

Tara Molina