Returning to the Classroom: How to Prepare Your Space for Students Amongst COVID-19
It’s been a year since the pandemic first reached our corner of the world. Although we have all learned how to adjust and adapt, a return to normalcy may be on the horizon. As schools plan to reopen their doors this coming fall, educators must consider their safest options and opportunities for their classroom amongst COVID-19.
We’ve highlighted several ways in which you can both optimize and modify your classroom space. In doing so, you create a healthy and positive learning environment for your students in the upcoming school year.
What to Expect
In most cases, there will be guidelines for students to follow when returning to school. Directional patterns and coordinated movement could be enforced for when students are walking to and from classes. Cleaning protocol may be increased, and it will be the responsibility of both staff and students to adhere to. In addition, face coverings and masks will likely be mandatory and social distancing will be implemented whenever possible.
Most of these procedures listed above are beyond faculty’s control. However, there are still a number of space and design considerations that you can take upon reopening. According to EdSurge, there are 5 ways you can implement a healthy and balanced space for your students:
How to Create a Healthy Space:
- Create a positive environment for their arrival. When students and staff return to school, there will be many mixed emotions. Creating a positive and uplifting community will be instrumental in building a safe space for students. This can be done by incorporating upbeat signage in the halls or by sharing positive daily announcements. When creating a space where students feel safe, you in turn eliminate stress and fear.
- Minimize clutter by prioritizing essential items for learning. Purge unnecessary items, or anything that could facilitate the spread of germs. Let in natural light and fresh air whenever possible. By cutting down on clutter, this in turn can improve student’s focus by creating a calming space.
- Minimize “teacher only” space by optimizing the full classroom. As social distancing is enforced and class sizes are decreased, consider how to best enhance your space. One way to do this is by creating a specific “teacher zone” in the corner of the room. By doing so, you have more space to spread out desks.
- Physical movement could be limited in order to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. However, teachers can still find ways to allow their students to move more. This could include stretching before class begins or moving the lesson plan to the outdoors on weather-permitting days. This past year students have learned the flexibility of remote learning. Allowing this autonomy to continue could prove to be helpful when returning to a physical location.
- Conversation and community should be a priority for students during class time. This will help to both calm and lower stress. According to EdSurge, there may be a non-linear return to in-person learning. When students return to school, it is important to make them feel connected and heard. “Where we learn matters, and as we consider the launch of the new school year, take time to listen to students, notice their needs and incorporate that in which we can’t control into the design elements that we can control.”
Modifying Your Classroom Space
According to the CDC, there are several other ways to modify the layout of your classroom. In doing so it promotes healthy environments and reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19. Below are a few of the guidelines they mention.
- Space students at least 6 feet apart. Make sure that students adhere to seating charts and do not share spaces with other students.
- Turn desks to face the same direction, rather than facing each other. If students are sharing a large table, have them sit on one side spaced apart.
- Reduce group sizes for learning activities. Use physical barriers or dividers whenever possible, such as a sneeze guard.
- Mark an “X” with colorful tape to point out where 6-foot distances are. This will help to ensure students of all ages are aware of proper spacing.
- Mark walking paths with colorful tape on the floors to ensure that students are entering and exiting the classrooms the right way. By directing the flow of traffic, this can mitigate the risk of crowded hallways and walkways.
- Prioritize cleanliness by setting up hand washing stations wherever possible. Incorporate posters near each station to remind students to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
- Open windows whenever possible to increase ventilation. If possible, keep interior doors open as a way to reduce touching of doorknobs.
Added Classroom Space
Even with the proper guidelines and safety precautions set in place, sometimes available space can be a problem.
For schools that have outgrown their building, portable classrooms can be a great overflow solution. Also known as modular classrooms, these portables match that of a standard classroom building. In fact, schools have been turning to modular building construction for decades. This is because they offer a safe, reliable, and affordable option for schools who need temporary space, fast.
If your school is looking to add space to meet the needs of COVID-19 protocol, we can help. Our experienced team has been working with schools like yours for over 20 years. Request a quote today or contact us directly: firstname.lastname@example.org (877) 438-8627.
For more information on modular classroom buildings, take a look at our useful articles below:
MODULAR CLASSROOM BUYER’S GUIDE– Everything You Need to Know