Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) fifth graders are taking the plunge as the winter temperature dips. The CCPS water safety program, now in its fourth decade, teaches students the basics of water safety to instill respect for water and its inherent danger.
The program is not designed to teach students how to swim but focuses on recognizing signs of distress and quelling panic in dangerous water situations. Fifth graders are at the ideal age to learn safety procedures as they are physically able to learn and understand the seriousness of the situation. “They have stamina and physical strength,” Robinson said.
The water safety program is split into two phases. The first phase involves viewing a water safety film from the American Red Cross, discussing general rules, and participating in classroom and at-home activities. The second phase is a day spent learning from water safety instructors at a high school pool.
During this program, students practiced pulling swimmers in distress and how to help while they were in the water. They were also taught the safest place to walk on ice in Charles County is only at the Capital Clubhouse.
“It’s important to learn at least the basics of water safety,” William Gray, a North Point senior who is trained to be a lifeguard, said. “A lot of drownings and accidents can be prevented if you know basic water safety.
The water safety program was started by a CCPS physical education teacher over 40 years ago after the drowning deaths of two children in Western Charles County. The program was expanded by the aquatic coordinator at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) to be offered to all CCPS fifth graders.
“I think everyone should know this,” Mia Joyce, a Jenifer fifth grader, said. “Everyone needs to know what they can do to help.”
The CCPS water safety program is held in January and May and is designed to teach children valuable water safety lessons as they enter a season when they may be around water, like a creek or a neighborhood pool.
“Spring weather is coming, and they’re going to go outside, having fun with their friends. They may be around water, like a creek or a neighborhood pool,” Ruff said. “They need to know water safety and how to stay safe and help others stay safe.”
Overall, the CCPS water safety program has been an important safety resource for fifth graders, providing them with the necessary skills to stay safe and help others stay safe around water.