The Los Angeles County Junior Lifeguard Program will resume this summer if Supervisor Janice Hahn has anything to say about it.

The popular youth summer program on the beach was cancelled last summer because of coronavirus restrictions. With the upcoming summer’s program seemingly in jeopardy again as a result of the continuing pandemic, more than 500 people recently wrote to the supervisor urging the county to allow the program to continue, a move other Southern California counties have done.

Hahn on Tuesday, Feb. 9, introduced a motion, unanimously supported by her colleagues on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, to find a way to reinstate the youth program safely.

“I actually think that Junior Lifeguards is something we can figure out how to do safely,” Hahn said in a statement. “It made sense to cancel the program last summer, but now we have a better idea of how to prevent the spread of this virus and how we can reduce the risk of outdoor activities. If we can do it safely, I think we owe it to our kids to get Junior Lifeguards back up and running this year.”

The motion directs the L.A. County Fire Department, in consultation with the Department of Public Health and the Office of Emergency Management, to report back in 30 days on how to safely resume the program this summer. Part of the report, according to the motion, should include public safety protocols and information about any staffing reallocations required to resume the Junior Lifeguard Program.

County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said the department was already working with the appropriate agencies to put out recommendations on how the program can operate this year.

“Since the beginning of COVID-19, all (L.A. County Fire Department) facilities have been closed to the public, and all public fire department programs were suspended for 2020,” Osby said in a statement. “With the recent spike, those suspensions and closures had been planned up until the summer of 2021. However, we are working with DPH, OEM and the BOS to provide other recommendations within 21 days.”

Redondo Beach Councilman Nils Nehrenheim, who also works as a lifeguard, spoke in favor of resuming the program during Tuesday’s meeting. The program’s absence last year, the councilman said, spurred local residents to create their own programs in deviance of county health orders.

“Last summer was devastating for the children of L.A. County,” Nehrenheim said. “It left the children structureless. As a result, people designed their own programs. Other agencies were able to operate safely. We can do the same.”

The Junior Lifeguard Program began in 1927 and teaches beach and ocean skills to young people from 9 to 17 years old. Those skills include water safety, swimming, body surfing, surfing, physical conditioning, competition skills, first aid, lifesaving, rescue techniques, CPR and the use of professional lifesaving equipment.

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