While students have not stepped foot on campus for classes since early March, maintenance projects are still necessary for area schools as they prepare for students to return.
Area schools are using this time to prepare for the 2020-21 school year regardless of how it will play out.
At Jackson Prep, Chief Operations Officer Denny Britt said their five-member maintenance team has been hard at work, even though they consider this summer’s work as being on a smaller scale.
The maintenance staff has been focused on sanitizing, as well as making repairs and repainting to refresh the campus and prepare for when faculty, staff and students will walk the halls again.
“Mostly, this summer for us will be small-scale projects,” Britt said. “We will be doing classroom upgrades, graphics and updated designs in the art building and mostly some upgrades to classroom equipment.”
In the classroom, Britt said they are ensuring that all equipment is current and working.
“We cycle through older equipment and replace it with newer equipment, those are the tools that the teachers use, so we are always on a cycle of replenishment and replacement.”
Britt said the art facility in the McRae building will get a bit of a facelift this summer, with creative graphics, color and design to reflect the creativity and what goes on in that space.
“We are excited to be updating that with a new and fresh look,” Britt said.
As for the grounds and physical upgrades this year, Britt said they will be focused on smaller projects. There are bigger items on the agenda for next year, but Britt was tight-lipped about what those projects will entail.
“This will be a slower summer for us in our cycle,” he said.
The maintenance team will be working toward repairing any damage to walls and assessing tables, desks and materials that need to be replaced.
“All the typical things you would look at doing when the students are not here,” Britt said.
Painting will be a big part of the agenda this summer, as they get classrooms ready for teachers and students.
“When our teachers change rooms and come into a new environment, they want to put their stamp on it,” Britt said. “We go in and help freshen up for them. We want to make sure they have a comfortable and welcoming environment. They are the backbone of what we do.”
Britt was complimentary of the five-person maintenance crew for stepping up during the coronavirus pandemic and keeping things running smoothly.
The St. Andrews Episcopal School has a motto of I2: Inspire and Innovate. St. Andrews Director of Facilities Brad Swinney said the Facilities Department’s 13-member staff will be working this summer to make both of the school’s campuses reflect that vision.
“One of our biggest projects that we have going on, with our current movement going on at our school, is designing classrooms to fit that vision and movement,” Swinney said.
Part of that project includes renovating three classrooms on the north campus and four classrooms at the elementary school.
Some ways they are achieving this is by placing collaborative furniture in several of the classrooms, installing surround sound audio systems and dual display for collaborative work with 75-inch televisions in each classroom.
In addition to those improvements, Swinney said they are upgrading lighting, installing safety glass to withstand storms and installing wireless software to allow for on-screen collaboration which will be compatible with many devices.
“We’re going to be doing some aerosol painting on both campuses, installing carpet in some classrooms, resurfacing the track for track and field and making some HVAC repairs as well,” Swinney said.
“Every summer is busy,” he said.
Madison County Schools Assistant Superintendent Kalvin Robinson said the school district allocates time over the summer to address needed upgrades and improvements at all 23 sites in the district.
“Each year, principals at each site submit requests for what they need done on their campuses over the summer,” Robinson said.
Robinson said this summer they are painting classrooms, pressure washing all entryways, deep cleaning restrooms and waxing floors in all buildings.
New tile and carpet will be installed in libraries and front offices of campuses that have requested it.
In addition to flooring upgrades, Robinson said front offices across the district are also being outfitted with better security.
“We have an ongoing project where we are securing all front offices,” Robinson said. Safety glass will be installed in each building’s front office. This project is in its second phase and is an ongoing process.
Madison Central High School is in phase two of HVAC upgrades over the summer, while construction has begun on additional classrooms at Ann Smith Elementary and Mannsdale Upper Elementary.
At Jackson Academy, deep cleaning, installing hand-cleaning stations and other projects will be going on over the summer in addition to routine maintenance.
“The faculty and staff are looking forward to having Jackson Academy’s learning community of students, faculty and staff back together in person,” said JA’s Associate Head of School for Finance and Advancement Angie Antici. “This summer, JA will be centering its attention on preparing for a safe in-person return to campus, including installing new hand-cleaning stations.”
According to Antici, Jackson Academy is also preparing for routine summer facilities maintenance such as roof replacement, painting and repairs.
“We are currently in the middle of a feasibility study that was started this spring to determine Jackson Academy’s short-term and long-term building and programming needs,” said Chief Advancement Officer Jim Wilkirson.
At St. Richard Catholic School, the months of June and July will provide ample opportunities to prepare and plan for returning to school in August.
Principal Jennifer David said staff will use this time to reorganize classrooms to accommodate the increase in enrollment in pre-k classes.
“We will be moving classrooms around and reorganizing,” David said. A second classroom for three-year-old students will be added for the 2020-21 school year as well.
Beginning in the fall, this will mean the three-year-old, four-year-old and kindergarten age groups will each have two classes.
“We are also adjusting for changes we will have to make to align with COVID-19 regulations,” David said. As of presstime, David said they are planning to be back in the building in August.
However, she said teachers will take part in a Meridian Community College course this summer to build stronger computer skills and other necessary abilities for distance learning, in case they ever have a need to return to that.
“All teachers are doing training over the summer, honing their distance learning skills,” David said.
In addition to these adjustments, there will also be general repairs going on over the summer at St. Richard, including replacing the air conditioning unit in the cafeteria.
David said a new roof is also in the works for the upper grade building.
The summer months will be spent freshening up and preparing for the return of students at St. Anthony Catholic School, according to Development Director Michele Warnock.
“We will be doing some painting and some typical maintenance things,” Warnock said. Some other projects are in the works, but Warnock said they are in too early of a stage to discuss yet.
Right now, the focus is on deep cleaning and other annual work that typically takes place over the summer while students are out for the break.
“We’re mainly getting ready for kids to come back,” Warnock said.
Similar work will be going on throughout the months of June and July at First Presbyterian Day School (FPDS) in preparation for students to return in August.
“Each June and July, First Presbyterian Day School and First Presbyterian Church utilize the summer days for a deep, thorough cleaning of the building, as well as maintenance repairs and touch-ups, in anticipation of welcoming students back in August,” said Brian Smith, FPDS Head of School.
This summer will be a busy one at Madison-Ridgeland Academy.
“We have multiple projects and improvements in the works,” said Leslie Dixon.
In the high school, two classrooms will be renovated into new art rooms. They will also be adding 8,000 square feet of new tile throughout the building.
“With the addition of Ward Hall, a state-of-the-art Elementary Enrichment Facility that opened at the beginning of this school year, we will be converting a vacant STEM Lab into an additional elementary classroom, which will provide space for the record enrollment we are experiencing,” Dixon said.
Interior painting will also be done throughout the campus. Exterior painting of the junior high football visitors’ locker room was recently completed.
“We are expanding and remodeling our gym concession stand and renovating our high school teachers lounge,” Dixon said. “Things are in full swing with Patriot Stadium as well with the addition of new home and visitor bleachers that will now seat over 150 more fans on each side and additional landscaping and brick work around the field.”