Combatting COVID-19 Chaos: A Health and Safety Oversight Program
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of our lives, but possibly no more than that of our school age children. Experts tell us that children will suffer social and educational impacts due to the abrupt end to the last school year and the need to pivot to learning from a distance. While some were able to successfully return to their studies virtually, there is no substitute to the in-person school experience with their teachers, fellow students, and friends, and all the other professionals and employees supporting their education.
With the new school year upon us, there is a desire to return children to in-person learning. From the working parents who have no solid childcare options, to the educational and medical professionals who warn of the long-term effects on the children by not returning to the in-person experience, sooner rather than later, to the continuing negative effects on the economy. Make no mistake, the debate over education versus the health of our children, teachers and others who make up the educational industry (e.g. school supervisors, cafeteria workers, para-professionals, support staff, unions, bus drivers, etc.), is tremendously divided.
There are numerous health and safety guidelines and policies that schools must comply with to prepare for school openings and while the schools are operational. They are derived from numerous sources, including the CDC, Governors’ offices, Health Departments, OSHA, and teacher and employee unions. This is all new and oftentimes confusing. Overlapping regulatory frameworks are understandably overwhelming for school officials to comprehend and master while, at the same time, attempting to address the new and complicated needs of students, teachers, and others while returning to their primary function of educating children.
Unfortunately, there is conflicting information being provided and the implementation is challenging. For those that do decide to return, and to convince others to do the same, the protocols designed to keep the children, educators, and others safe from contracting COVID-19, will be under a microscope and transparency of, and adherence to, those protocols, will be paramount in ensuring a safe school environment.
All of this leaves the Board and administrators with questions and, unfortunately, risk and liability.
- How do we know we are doing enough?
- How do we know if we are doing it correctly?
- How do we know if our consultants got it right?
- How do we know our vendors are doing the right thing?
Our Team, with decades of experience in workplace safety and environmental health and safety coupled with project integrity monitoring and auditing provide you with an independent resource to make sure you get it right…..and reduce the risks to students, teachers, and the Board.
DeLuca Advisory Services, Total Safety Consulting and Gallagher Bassett Technical Services have teamed to offer Project Assure. Working through DLA as a single entity with our multi-discipline expertise and resources, Project Assure can assist the school as a third-party, independent watchdog to oversee and audit the schools’ COVID-19 Planning Consideration and Re-entry Program’s (Plan) implementation, contact-tracing and reporting, operating and reporting procedures, selection of vendors and purchase of bonified PPE, performance of inspections and disinfection services, and the implementation of specific plans as approved by the State or local authorities.
The Project Assure Team will provide much needed comfort to all stakeholders that all appropriate precautions were taken, and continue to be taken, for the re-opening of schools. This entity will also closely track and audit expenses for reimbursement for federal programs, State grants and other assistance programs, including the CARES Act. Through Project Assure, we provide the professional objectivity needed to convince all stakeholders that no one stakeholder is covering up weaknesses or enforcement of the Plans and that all constituent groups are being served properly and equally. Most importantly, with the limits on budgets, these services should be reimbursable by the federal government through the various funding programs and therefore needs to be implemented, managed, and documented properly.
For all stakeholders to have comfort that all required health and safety steps have been taken as schools reopen and are adhered to while they are in session, a third-party independent entity is the best way to protect everyone’s interest. The Project Assure Team has the requisite expertise and objectivity to not only perform a review of the Plans and Protocols developed by school administrations to ensure they are in compliance with all relevant guidance issued by the regulatory agencies, but also perform ongoing audits to ensure those plans and protocols are properly implemented.
Total Safety Consulting (TSC), the Region’s largest privately-owned safety inspection and training company. TSC works with its clients to provide safety management, loss control engineering services, environmental health and safety and technical training services. TSC brings safety professionals, safety engineers and training capabilities in addition to turnkey public safety services through its on-site health services team of medical professionals.
Gallagher Bassett Technical Services (GBTS), part of the Gallagher organization, and the fourth largest risk management firm in North America. GBTS is the technical risk engineering, industrial hygiene, health & safety, environmental and building sciences consultancy within Gallagher. GBTS has been developing and implementing COVID-19 response actions and protocols since early March, nationwide. GBTS brings Certified Industrial Hygienists and health professionals to the team.