The decision of the Bridgehampton School District to require that all students be educated remotely until after the holiday break may prove to be a blessing in disguise that will help contractors as they rush to finish major portions of a $29.4 million expansion project.
The district, which had been teaching elementary school students on campus and had just begun to phase in in-person instruction for secondary school students, was forced to switch to virtual instruction when a staff member and two students tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.
At a School Board meeting on December 16, John Grillo, the district’s architect, said contractors would be able to run double shifts to take advantage of the absence of students and staff over the holidays.
Superintendent Robert Hauser said this week he was confident that most interior work, with the exception of the gymnasium and cafeteria, would be done when classes are expected to resume on January 4.
He added, though, it is possible that as families come together for the holidays, there will be more cases of COVID-19, requiring the school to extend the period it conducts virtual instruction.
After the interior of the new building is completed, contractors will be able to move onto the razing a pair of portable buildings, one that houses the prekindergarten and another that houses science and music classes, probably during the winter vacation in late February. They will be replaced by 16 parking spaces.
The board and Mr. Grillo also discussed the possibility of canceling a plan to build an additional 14 parking spaces on the east side of the building where a group of three portable units, which are being leased as temporary office space for teachers, are no longer needed.
Mr. Hauser said that as part of the original bidding process for the school expansion, Stalco Construction, the general contractor for the project, won a bid to provide the parking on the east side for approximately $190,000. Mr. Grillo said the district might be able to realize some cost savings by putting the project out to bid separately, but Mr. Hauser said for that to happen, Stalco would have to be willing to give up the contract and allow the district to put it out for bid again.
Work on the expansion project began in 2017 and was expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2020 school year or shortly thereafter, but when the coronavirus pandemic broke out in March, work was suspended for several weeks and delayed further when supply lines were backed up.