With safety and health precautions, bond construction continues

The Gresham-Barlow School District and greater East County community have moved quickly to respond and adapt to the ongoing circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bond-funded construction at the district’s schools is continuing, with modifications to maintain safety protocols as directed by local and state health officials.

Construction is an industry that was deemed essential from the beginning of the closure, which has allowed work to continue on GBSD projects.  The school district has worked closely with  Construction Managers, General Contractors, and construction crews to establish protocol for the health and wellbeing of all involved with bond-related construction projects. 

Supervisors have directed all construction staff to follow Oregon’s public health recommendations to practice social distancing and keep a full six feet away from each other while on the job site. GBSD and contractors have established daily routines of diligently wiping down and cleaning all surfaces, door handles, restrooms, and tools. GBSD and construction sites are being monitored by establishing a single entrance to each building, with each staff member signing in, and contractors have discouraged carpooling. 

School construction remains on time – and many projects might finish weeks early

During this outbreak, these buildings have been empty with no students or teachers in the buildings. Without having to plan their construction around classes, construction crews at some sites across the district have been able to finish certain projects ahead of schedule. Construction at Sam Barlow is complete; the project finished on budget and a full month ahead of schedule. Construction of Gresham High School’s gym started a month sooner than originally scheduled as well.

“The bond-funded construction work continues following all critical safety guidelines, which we continue to monitor and assess on a daily basis,” said Facilities Director Terry Taylor. “The new performing arts building and counseling center at Sam Barlow High School have also been completed ahead of schedule. The construction crews had originally aimed for the end of July as a timeline for completion [for the entire Sam Barlow HS project], but we’re thrilled to see it finished early.”

“Being considered as an essential project has created greater efficiencies for our contractors,” said Matt Hockett. Hockett is a project superintendent for Lease Crutcher Lewis, the company overseeing the construction at Sam Barlow High School as well as Dexter McCarty and Gordon Russell Middle Schools.

Similarly, with empty buildings, renovations to Dexter McCarty, Gordon Russell and Clear Creek Middle Schools have moved quicker than anticipated. Construction crews at these buildings were able to begin on demolition, roofing and asbestos abatement work this spring. All three buildings will also receive new secure vestibule entrances. Renovations at West Orient Middle School and Highland Elementary School also began months ahead of schedule.

District Construction Managers are optimistic that these projects will remain on or ahead of schedule. 

“The district and the contractors were fortunate to get a lot of the materials with longer lead times ordered before the outbreak hit,” said Hockett. 

Construction staff noted that while potential changes to the national supply chain for construction materials might delay the arrival, as of this summer, delays have been minor to non-existent. 

Completed projects await students’ return

While the outbreak has created significant disruptions to our students, families, and greater community, students and teachers can look forward to many new and renovated buildings when it is safe to return to school. Improvements at elementary, middle, and high schools across the district are still on schedule for completion, with many projects expected to be complete by this fall. 

“We’re continuing to move forward with bond construction with guidance from state public health officials and we will be sure to keep the public up to date for any changes to scheduled bond construction,” said Gresham-Barlow Superintendent Dr. A. Katrise Perera.

“Once our facilities reopen, we will look for opportunities to showcase all the renovations.”