COOS BAY — Boosted by good weather in the fall that allowed workers to complete the ceiling for the second floor, construction is close to on schedule for the new Marshfield Junior High School, Coos Bay School District Superintendent Bryan Trendell said this week.
“Our last report was that due to weather and different things we were maybe a week behind schedule in some areas and ahead of schedule in other areas,” Trendell said. “They will get caught right back up.”
The wall supports for the third floor are going up and if the weather is favorable, the roof should be completed by the end of February, Trendell said.
The goal is to have the building completed by July and ready for students for the start of the 2021-22 school year.
Ideally, the state will be past the worst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by then and return to school as normal.
“I’m very optimistic that by fall we will for sure be in-person with all of our kids,” Trendell said. “Hopeful it will happen sooner.”
With loosening restrictions statewide, many school districts are returning kids in most grades back to the classroom. Coos Bay is being cautious, in part to a bill passed last week by the legislature, Trendell said.
The bill provides some protections related to COVID-19 for schools and businesses, Trendell said, but only if they follow the guidelines provided by the state health authorities.
Meanwhile, the work is progressing well on the new school building.
Finishing the ceiling for the second story of the building was a big plus.
“That helped speed up some of the interior work on the first two floors down below,” Trendell said. “We’re about a week behind on the third floor framing and roof. They will catch that up in no time.
“Hopefully we’ll have the roof on and everything dried by February and then they can really go to town inside.”
The timeline is important because of the Coos Bay School District’s bigger construction plans.
The students who will be in the junior high building currently are at Blossom Gulch Elementary School.
When those students move into the new junior high, the district will move students from Madison Elementary School into Blossom Gulch so workers can complete a renovation project there during the next school year.
Trendell said the decision to move the Madison students is “so we don’t have to go into two school years to get that work done. We cut a big chunk out of that time frame and saved some money.”
As for the current school year, Trendell said distance learning for the older students has gotten better.
“We still have kids out there who are really struggling,” he said. “Those are the kids who really need to be in-person.
“We are going to push and try to make it happen, but we are going to do it safely.”
And district officials are looking forward to when all students are back in school buildings.
“We’re optimistic for 2021, that’s for sure,” Trendell said. “We’d like to see some sense of normalcy. I don’t know what exactly it will look like. But we’re hopeful for that.”