Maintaining K12 and Higher Ed Project Continuity During the Pandemic

“Schools are an essential part of our community infrastructure, and despite the uncertainty about students returning to schools face-to-face this fall, it remains Shockey’s responsibility to get the kids in.” – Jeff Boehm, President, Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc.

As students and staff prepare to go back to school this fall, many of them will not go back in person — even though they may have brand new school buildings waiting for them.

Despite existing classrooms standing empty in the wake of COVID-19 — and students and teachers studying and working from home since March — all of Shockey’s school construction projects have been able to move forward. Even though many local governments asked nonessential businesses to close or suspend operations when the pandemic hit, the federal government quickly deemed the construction industry an essential service, so building teams have been permitted to work through the pandemic.

“We have continued building, safely and mindfully,” said Shockey President Jeff Boehm. Early on, the operations and safety teams introduced new safeguards such as limiting the numbers of workers on each job site, adjusting work schedules, providing PPE resources, sanitization, and testing, monitoring exposure, and observing all CDC guidelines.

“I am always impressed by our field and safety teams and the work they do,” remarked Boehm, “but during this crisis, they have really demonstrated their talent, determination and mettle.”

Industry experts concur it’s been a difficult summer to keep projects moving ahead and on schedule, given social distancing and quarantines, disrupted supply chains, reduced workforce, and the limited availability of governmental personnel for project inspections.*

But Shockey’s agile business posture has ensured that critical dates have been met. Senior Vice President Jon Cadle and Education Market Lead Rob Wagoner spearhead the mapping out of the supply chain, ensuring that all Shockey project teams across Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia continue to take the proactive measures necessary to stay on schedule.

The focus has paid off. Shockey has several K12 and Higher Ed projects coming online in the fall of 2020, and despite the pandemic, all of them will open in time for school. One of them, for Shenandoah University, was even delivered early.

“The level of diligence and dedication that was exhibited was at the usual Shockey high-standard of work — in a condensed time frame AND during a pandemic! Thank you for working Shockey magic again,” said Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons.

A few highlights:

Lightridge High School

The newest public high school in Loudoun County (the fastest-growing county in Virginia) is located in the Dulles South area. The 305,000 SF structure’s stunning design features a mix of masonry and glass. Lightridge High School, designed for an anticipated program capacity of 1,800 students, includes classrooms, a media center, a cafeteria, an auditorium/theater, a greenhouse, main and auxiliary gyms, baseball and softball fields, and lighted tennis courts and stadium, as well as practice and physical education fields and track and field facilities. Sustainable systems include natural and LED lighting with daylight sensors, high-efficiency condensing water heaters and low-flow fixtures. Designed by MFTA Architecture.

River City Middle School

River City Middle School is a new 170,600 SF middle school built for Richmond Public Schools. As Construction Manager, Shockey provided site development and oversaw construction for the 1,500-student capacity school, which contains a media center, auxiliary gyms, kitchens in each wing, three science labs, and an abundance of light and color. River City’s teaching spaces are equipped with marker boards and tack boards. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney toured the school in July, calling it a “high-tech, 21st century school that speaks to future performance and excellence of our students.” Designed by RRMM Architects.

Shenandoah University Upper-Class Housing

Located at fast-growing Shenandoah University in Winchester, these buildings provide an apartment-style living option for the university’s upper-class student leaders. Complete with marble countertops and fully equipped kitchens, each apartment is approximately 1,600 SF, with four single-occupancy bedrooms and two bathrooms. All apartments are fully furnished and include a washing machine, dryer and modern kitchen appliances. Communal porches and green spaces are available for the enjoyment of all residents. This is the fourth building in a student housing residential complex known on campus as “The Q”. Designed by Earl Swensson Associates, Inc.

Shihadeh Innovation Center

The Shihadeh Innovation Center in Winchester aims to help youth and adults meet the demands of the regional job market. Shockey is overseeing construction to transform a former elementary school into a 46,400 SF career and technical education center that will house three academies — Health Sciences, Advanced Technologies, and Professional Skills. Each academy will have simulated vocational experiences; students will practice job skills such as time management, communication, and conflict resolution. The new Innovation Center will give students experiences that mirror the “real” working world, equipping them with skills to help them find a job, regardless of whether they go to college. This project is being used as a virtual design and construction case study with a UK-based software team. Designed by VMDO Architects.

Every school district will be faced with difficult decisions this fall. If your school district is planning to open, see Reopening K-12 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic, which provides guidance on the reopening and operation of elementary and secondary schools for the 2020-2021 school year.


* Source: Construction Executive.