- T: 201-437-5150 | Email Us
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of our lives, but possibly no more than that of students. Experts tell us that students will suffer social and educational impacts due to the abrupt end to the last school year and the need to pivot to distance-learning. While some were able to successfully return to their studies virtually, there is no substitute to the in-person school experience with their teachers/faculty, fellow students, friends, and all the other professionals and employees supporting their education.
With the new school year upon us, there is a desire to return students to in-person learning. From the working parents who have no solid childcare options, to the college-aged student who want the full college experience, to educational and medical professionals who warn of the long-term effects on the students 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 students, teachers and staff who make up the educational industry, 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, institutes of higher education to intimately 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 students.
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 students, 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 School Boards, Administrators, and Institutes of Higher Education with questions and, unfortunately, risk and liability.
DeLuca Advisory Services (DLA), Total Safety Consulting (TSC) and Gallagher Bassett Technical Services (GBTS) 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.