Posted by MooreCo Inc on Apr 24, 2020 4:50:59 PM
The United States has been largely on lockdown for the last several weeks due to the global pandemic of Covid-19, causing schools and business to close temporarily. This has been done to slow the spread of the virus, and studies are showing it's working. The good news is that soon we’ll be able to resume daily activities like working and learning. But life won’t be exactly like it was, at least not for a while.
At MooreCo, we’ve been studying optimal classroom design for child health and development for 35 years, and we’re ready to help you get ready for the 2020 back-to-school season. Safety is our priority and we’re innovating to help students continue to play, learn, and grow when the school year starts. Here are a few ways that you can prepare for fall and what to know for the year ahead, according to experts.
1. Hygiene and Handwashing Will Continue to Be a Priority
Dr. Melinda Holliday, M.D., is a pediatrician in Austin. She says that when kids do go back to school, they’ll still need to practice aggressive hygiene measures like frequent handwashing to fight off Covid-19. This is especially important for young kids who tend to play in close contact and share toys and tools. Sanitation stations and readily accessible antibacterial hand gel will be a feature of every classroom for years to come.
Hygiene also means teaching kids to cough into elbows, not share lunches, and use caution while playing. Whiteboards, lap boards, desks, utensils, and school supplies should all be made of material that can be easily cleaned and neatly stored at the end of each school day.
2. Kids Will Need Help Catching Up
Dr. Holliday says that it will be of the utmost importance going forward to safeguard not only children’s physical health, but their mental health as well. This means looking out for kids who feel overwhelmed coming back to school after months of being at home. For some, distance learning will be easier than others, as not all students have access to the same technology or tools at home.
When kids are in the classroom, Dr. Holliday says that educators and parents will need to keep constant communication to help kids stay mentally healthy and on track with their education. Google Classroom and i3LearnHub work in partnership to keep those lines of communication open while distance learning. They can help to bridge the gap once school is back in session, so that parents never miss an assignment and can continue to help their kids actively when at home.
3. Health-Conscious Design Will Be Used to Help Keep Kids Safe
The materials used to create classroom furniture matter. Having antimicrobial surfaces in classrooms will also help to reduce the spread of germs. Non-porous porcelain steel desks, like MooreCo’s Hierarchy Shapes desk, are safer than wooden desks, as they resist the growth of bacteria and don’t absorb water that can lead to mold growth. They were designed to rearrange easily between configurations that allow for collaboration and independent seating. They are compact and lightweight, easily movable to space in each room, and wipe clean easily.
Antimicrobial laminate-top workstations for teachers will keep educators organized, comfortable, and healthy. Harmful bacteria can be transferred to soft seating and then back to people and lead to the spread of infection. If you’re choosing soft-seating options for libraries or classrooms, vinyl fabric options will facilitate easy cleanup and won’t transfer germs from cloth to people, or vice versa.
4. Social Distancing Will Be a Part of Life in the Classroom
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, social distancing is an effective way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among children. Dr. Holliday says that while children are overwhelmingly experiencing less aggressive symptoms with Covid-19, kids with needs for special care will be extremely vulnerable in a traditional school setting without distancing measures in place.
We can look to Denmark and other countries that are beginning life after lockdown to get an idea of what will change in U.S. schools this fall. Spacing kids apart during learning and playtime will be the new normal for months to come.
Just last week, the governor of California acknowledged the upcoming need for social distancing and “reconfiguring” design in classrooms. Educators will be marking and measuring places on the floor for individual desks so that students are a safe distance apart, in order to reduce the spread of germs.
Although collaborative desk setup is great for active learning, desk separation and decreasing density in each room will be important for the next few months. Workstations like the Stance Desk are easily configurable, mobile, and compact, and will be ideal for classroom design that facilitates spatial distancing without taking up too much room.
5. Collaboration Will Require Mindful Separation
In addition to the spacing of desks and individual seating, other measures can help to limit the spread of Covid-19 once kids go back to school. Dividers at or between desks will act as privacy barriers and sneeze guards, keeping kids safer while close together. Teachers may also request or require a mobile boundary screen for their desks to keep safe distance and prohibit the sharing of germs.
Experts are also emphasizing the need for smaller groups of students in each classroom and the possibility of "staggered scheduling", which means that some kids may have half-days or days off of school. This means that the classroom of the future, even beyond 2020, will need to be equipped with tools that make learning at a distance accessible. Online learning tools will be a necessity if a spike in new cases begins, or if a student needs to stay home because of the illness of a family member. Having a classroom at home and educational software will help your child continue to learn even at a distance, and they will likely need to in the future.
6. Antimicrobial Supplies Will Help to Prevent Future Outbreaks
Classrooms this year will need to have cleaning equipment and protective gear handy. Disinfectant wipes, antibacterial hand gel, and protective face masks will be school supplies. Storage spaces like cabinets and bins will be needed to safely organize these products in places that are accessible to students.
Paper products and chalkboards are traditional classroom supplies that are not easy to disinfect and may need to be replaced with newer, cleaner methods. White board surfaces and lap boards are a great alternative, letting kids and teachers annotate, create, and draw, while being easy to sanitize.
7. Online Learning is Here to Stay
Although it will make most parents cringe to hear this, the Covid-19 crisis has ushered in a new way of learning, and dependency on screen devices is now widespread. Experts suggest that lockdowns may continue to happen even after this one ends. In the event this happens, those school systems, teachers, and students who have adjusted to online learning will have the advantage and be prepared.
For educators, we recommend always having interactive technology that can be used in live and online classrooms alike. Many universities are choosing the option of remote teaching come this fall, and those professors and teachers who have the ability to seamlessly lecture from afar will be better prepared. One tool that can help facilitate distance learning is the i3TOUCH, an interactive display that allows for live lessons and screen sharing perfect for remote teaching. Teachers of the future will need tools like this integrative smart board to fully engage with students even at a distance.
We’re Here to Help
We know this new way of life may feel daunting, but don’t worry. We’re ready to help you furnish and supply your school with the highest-quality products that will aid in the fight against Covid-19. Keep students healthy and parents assured by getting your classroom ready for life in a post-Covid world. Call us if you have any questions about health-conscious design and your school.