By unanimous vote, Ohio’s Loveland City school board has selected national engineering firm LJB Inc. to guide the Loveland City School District’s reopening plans.
Using its combination of pandemic planning and engineering expertise, LJB’s team will develop a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) for each of the district’s six schools. The team will assess the district’s current reopening plans and weigh factors—such as critical functions, building floor plans, and crucial resources—to develop the safety procedures, controls and training needed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
The district will finance the project with federal aid it received from the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
“We received just over half a million dollars in federal aid that’s restricted to expenditures related to reacting to the COVID virus,” Loveland City School District superintendent, Dr. Amy Crouse, told WKRC News in Cincinnati.
“It has been very challenging to be able to come up with a situation or come up with a scenario we feel confident in,” she said. “What we don’t know is if we have done everything possible to ensure those layers of safety for staff and students.”
LJB’s team on this project is led by industrial hygiene and preventive health experts Kirk Phillips and Dawn Colombi, who created and implemented pandemic preparedness plans, protocols, and controls while serving in the U.S. military.
“We have been working with pandemics around the world for years,” LJB Health Safety & Environmental practice leader Kirk Phillips told WKRC News. “It’s really important to understand that while COVID-19 is novel, there’s quite a bit we know about it as a disease.” Phillips added that as new information about the disease is discovered, LJB’s ability to adjust will enable the school system to be resilient.
“School administration and staff have put an impressive amount of work into this process so far,” said Dawn Colombi, LJB’s Occupational and Environmental Health Leader and Safety Director. “We look forward to collaborating with them to develop and design learning environments with the highest degree of safety and the lowest risk potential.”
In Loveland Schools’ “Tiger Talk” newsletter, Loveland City school board president, Dr. Kathryn Lorenz, said, “By leveraging LJB’s expertise, we are confident that we will save valuable time and resources while avoiding the high stakes consequences of reactive or trial-and-error approaches.”