Posted by MooreCo Inc on Nov 18, 2020 2:38:29 PM
Since spring of 2020, MooreCo has been providing up-to-date information about how COVID-19 is changing classroom design and the way students learn. By bringing in experts in the fields of healthcare, education, and architecture and design, we’ve continued to seek answers and create solutions for how to help children continue to learn and adults continue to work throughout the pandemic. As cases rise again all over the nation, we’ve asked experts what to expect going forward and about best practices for safeguarding students’ mental and physical health, as well as preserving their ability to learn.
At our recent webinar, Thrive Together: Creating the Classrooms of Tomorrow, we gained insight from professionals at the top of the field of classroom design for considerations for COVID-19. Here are the top takeaways they shared with us, based on their own experiences of designing for and reopening schools.
- All Classroom Environments Must Be Flexible
During our webinar, each of the experts echoed similar sentiments on the importance of flexibility for learning during COVID-19. This applies to environments, learning models, as well as psychological mindset. For environments, this means having furniture that is lightweight, easily distanced, and easy to clean. For learning models, COVID-19 has made it necessary for schools to provide the technology for students to continue to learn online for a hybrid or remote model, especially as cases this fall begin to spike again. For psychological mindset, it means taking action with steps to protect others- like wearing a mask. It also means understanding that the pandemic is a temporary situation and that working together and adapting will be the most effective way to thrive through it. Just as Sylvia Kowalk, Director of Interior Design at Legat Architects, said, “Flexibility, adaptability, and resiliency are the keys to designing classroom environments during COVID-19.”
- Student and Teacher Mental Health Need to be a Priority
From Superintendent Dr. Tom Leonard to Corgan Educational Design Lead Angie Stutsman, all presenters at the Thrive Together fall conference agreed on the importance of looking out for student and teacher mental health throughout the pandemic. From a design perspective, mental health can be aided by enacting protective measures within each space that may reduce the spread of COVID-19. Angie Stutsman summed it up poignantly. “We are also experiencing a mental health crisis. Symptoms of depression and anxiety are on the rise. Too much stress can negatively interfere with a student’s ability to learn...It has never been more important to consider student’s emotional well-being in the design of their learning spaces.” Design solutions can help to improve mental health throughout the pandemic in learning spaces, as Angie points out. “Health design elements such as plexiglass screens, easily cleanable surfaces, improved air flow, and accessibility to cleaning supplies can help provide a sense of safety and a feeling of control in the learning environment.”
- Technology Continues to Drive Learning During the Pandemic
Chloe Hosid is a Design Researcher in the Education Studio at Corgan. She said that technology has had a profound impact on students’ ability to learn through the pandemic and will undoubtedly continue to play a role in the future of classrooms. She mentioned the benefits of interactive technology and gave insight about the pathways to education through virtual reality. To get through the 2020-2021 schoolyear with COVID-19 cases on the rise, interactive technology is a necessity. Access to internet, mobile learning devices or home laptops, and updated educational software are necessary tools for schools to continue to educate students effectively through the end of the year. This is especially true as we begin to see more schools throughout the nation close due to rising cases of the virus in their communities.
4. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Must Be Considered For All Students to Thrive
COVID-19 has brought an awareness to the needs of students. All students learn differently and have access to different resources. When the pandemic hit, many were forced to learn remotely, which left 15 million American students without access to internet or devices behind. In the first session of our Thrive Together webinar, we learned about how learning gaps are directly connected to systemic oppression and greater need for funding of schools. Without attention being paid to underserved communities, students all over the country are being left behind. For the nation to thrive, its students must thrive. As Dr. Marc Gooden said, “COVID-19 has raised this question: Do we have the opportunity to change the way we’ve been doing things? How can we serve all students more broadly?” Although this year has been a challenge, it’s also a good reminder of how we can improve the future of education for everyone going forward.
- Looking to Tomorrow Will Help Get Us Through Today
Our Thrive Together webinar was about how designers and educators are tackling the events of 2020 and moving forward into a better future for education in 2021 and beyond. All speakers mentioned the importance of community support, adapting, and resilience. Although 2020 has been a year of challenges, presenters spoke on the opportunity that is being presented for a better tomorrow that meets the needs of all students. It will take active involvement of the community, as well as unity and patience to get through the pandemic. By modeling unity, hope, resilience, and teamwork as adults, the children and students in our lives will learn how to do the same. Dr. Leonard delivered a simple motto that we can all learn from as we move through this next few months. “Stay safe. Stay smart. Remain sustainable.” By working together and taking proper precautions, we can continue to thrive as we move into the new year.
We’re Here to Help…
At MooreCo, we’re working hard to make sure that schools, teachers, and students have what they need to continue to learn safely throughout the schoolyear. This includes everything from desktop screens that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19, to software that facilitates remote learning. Download our COVID solutions brochure for ideas, and contact us if you’re ready to create classrooms that will transition from 2020 to a brighter, better, future in 2021.