The 2019-2020 school year only recently came to an end, however, the one question looming for both school administrators and parents is "what will school look like in the fall?" Although education personnel anxiously await the CDC and governor's guidance for reopening schools, it is imperative that they begin to consider arrangements for their students and staff.
Initial plans may call for outfitting schools with hand sanitation stations, removal of cafeteria dining, and alternating days of in-school and virtual learning. These are good measures to put in place, but after months of having children at home, many parents feel that the best environment for educational and social-emotional success is within the school building, doing things as they had done pre-pandemic.
Extension of Indoor Space
Faced with these concerns from parents, schools can investigate solid social distancing solutions to get kids back to school full-time while adhering to social distancing protocol. Some have considered individual partitions or plastic barriers for desks, but what will happen to these in the long run? From a budget standpoint, it would be prudent to go forward with solutions that have longevity.
Increasing space may be the most efficient and effective answer to this dilemma. Expansion is a worthwhile investment that will be beneficial to separating students in the interim and then be put to good use when schooling returns to normal at some point. Building additions or adding structures such as sunrooms are perfect, non-invasive ways to add space without causing major disruption to the existing infrastructure.
Benefits also include the ability to accommodate future student population growth or creation of smaller classes in the years to come. Sunrooms can also be repurposed into nature and science centers and a bonus is that they limit reliance on light fixtures. Also, any resource department that may have lacked a dedicated space in the past can gain a permanent home in these additions once normalcy resumes.
Upgrading Outdoor Areas
What we have learned from the direction that restaurants have already taken, is that outdoors may be the best place for seating while the weather permits. The increased natural air flow is essential for limiting the spread of germs. It is unlikely that classes can be conducted for long periods in direct sunlight and heat, so if schools plan to make use of outside areas, they would require covering. Patio covers can help to achieve this. The wonderful thing about creating designated "outdoor classrooms" is giving everyone more personal space while providing a unique learning space that students enjoy.
Outdoors can also be an ideal setting that provides tranquility and a connection with nature while supporting classes or enabling students to eat lunch in a location different from their classroom. Outdoor learning is a hot topic right now and it appears that many are pushing for this to start the school year off.