With the COVID-19 pandemic, returning to school has left many things uncertain. Many schools are opting for distance learning, some are choosing to resume on-campus education, and some are still in the decision-making process.
If you’re responsible for preparing learning spaces for the new school year, there is a lot you should consider when it comes to school and classroom design. We want to help you out.
No one has all of the answers, but we have some suggestions for how you may want to set up and maintain your school classrooms and play spaces before school comes back into session and while children are learning.
Keep reading to learn about redesigning school spaces for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Easy-to-Clean School Furniture
School furniture is often chipped, cracked, and worn down from years of use by students.
When the school year starts back up, you may want to opt for some new furniture that’s smooth and easy to clean. Classrooms are a breeding ground for germs, and even masked children may be prone to putting their hands in their mouths before and after touching their desks and chairs.
Smooth surfaces will allow for easy cleaning between classes and protect the children and the teachers from potential infection. A total replacement of furniture may seem like an unnecessary expenditure, but it is the safest way to allow students to enter the classroom and prevent the spread.
Distance Classroom Furniture
Classroom designs are going to look different this year. Guidelines suggest that desks are 6 feet apart. This may require the use of smaller desks and tables in order to get the maximum number of students in each classroom.
Students should not be at arm’s reach of others while at their desks and the distance is necessary unless there’s some kind of barrier between them.
Any desks or chairs need to be 6 feet apart from others, preferably with a barrier in the front. Seating areas should also be planned with all children facing in the same direction.
If your classroom has beanbag chairs or reading rugs, use your creativity to indicate sitting areas that are six feet apart to ensure students maintain distance.
Not only do you have to distance students, but you also have to ensure that the teacher can maintain distance as well. Teachers should have 6 feet of space between themselves and their students.
Students Should Stay in One Area
Many classes revolve around group work, stations, and even changing classrooms. Most students have a lunch break in the cafeteria. Depending on the guidelines set by your district, this rotational framework might not be an option for you this year.
Students should have easy access to all of their necessary items for the day from their desks. If anyone has to get up, it should be one at a time to minimize contact.
Trash cans should be accessible and students should have space by their desks to keep backpacks and lunches so as to not have to move around more than necessary.
If multiple teachers are needed for different subjects, it may be in the best interest of the teachers to swap classrooms instead of the students. This is something that’s being handled differently district by district.
Teachers should have everything that they need within reach as well and there should be ample room for the teacher to visit the students when necessary.
Limit Classroom Sizes
Class sizes will have to shrink in order for distance to be safely maintained. There are several proposals for how this can be done. The most popular is the option to allow parents to choose how their child learns. The hope is that many (if not most) of the parents will opt for distance learning, allowing in-school teaching to be more easily manageable.
Modify Playground Equipment
School playgrounds may not be usable in the upcoming year, but if your district is doing on-campus learning you may want to consider the contents of your playground.
While much of this equipment is affixed to the ground, you should revise your cleaning schedules to best protect everyone. Consider blocking off sections that are too close together and limiting the amount of people allowed on the playground at once.
Keeping everything as spaced out as possible, and ensuring frequent cleaning of equipment is the best way to prevent the spread on the playground.
Frequent Sanitation of School Furniture
As we’ve mentioned, everything that’s used in the classroom should be easy to sanitize. This makes cleanup easy, quick, and safe and allows students to resume class without a hassle every day. Along with having easily cleanable furniture, it is essential to make sure that the furniture is sanitized frequently.
There are guidelines given by the CDC on how to keep a clean and spaced-out classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The goal is to routinely sanitize anything that is touched by more than one person. This includes lunch trays (if applicable), play equipment, toys, and anything else that sees multiple hands per day.
Learning Spaces Will Be Different This Year
Redesigning learning spaces is necessary for coming back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping the health of teachers as well as students in mind is key to effectively transitioning to in-class learning.
By taking the proper safety measures, newly designed learning spaces can safely hold students while offering a quality learning experience.
If you’re interested in professional school or classroom design to prepare for coming back to school, book a free consultation.