Getting Back to Learning Safely in 2021
American schools are weeks away from opening their doors for a new school year. The last year has been challenging for students, teachers, and parents. Although optimism surged at the beginning of the summer due to mass accessibility of the vaccine, the Delta variant has proven to be a formidable opponent, causing the American Association of Pediatrics and the CDC to suggest that safety measures must remain in place in schools this fall to reduce the spread. This is particularly important for students under 12, who don't yet qualify for receiving the vaccine. On July 27th, the CDC stated that “Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies place.”
MooreCo has been providing space solutions for COVID-19 since March of 2020. Even as case numbers rise and fall, we will continue to provide options to help keep students and teachers learning. Whether in person, virtual, or a combination, MooreCo has what schools need to thrive in every learning situation. With the help of ESSER funds, schools are being encouraged to provide the necessary equipment to aid in the fight against COVID-19 as students continue to learn in person. In this article, we’ll break down what space solutions will help students focus on learning as schools open this fall.
Top Educational Technology
COVID-19 taught us that having access to the internet and top technology is a must in certain situations. Students and schools thrive when they have access to interactive technology that can be used in live and online classrooms alike. Whether it's due to COVID, flu season, or inclement weather, having the tools to help students keep learning in every situation is highly valuable. One tool that can help facilitate distance learning is the i3TOUCH, an interactive display that allows for live lessons and screen sharing. Teachers of the future will need tools like this integrative smart board to fully engage with students, even at a distance.
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 scholars continue to learn. Google Classroom and i3LearnHub work in partnership to keep lines of communication open while distance learning. They can help to bridge the gap so that parents never miss an assignment and can continue to help their kids actively when at home.
Air Quality Monitors
It's important to note that COVID-19 is an airborne virus and extremely contagious. Emerging studies show that the Delta variant is 225% more transmissible than the original strain. In order to help prevent its proliferation, a multilayered approach is needed. This is called the "Swiss Cheese Model". We know that wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent handwashing are effective at stopping COVID in its tracks. But since it's a highly transmissible airborne virus, more can be done to keep teachers and students safe.
This week, Austin ISD announced they would provide air purifiers for every classroom, which is a great start. An air quality monitor can go even further in helping keep students and teachers breathing easy. The i3CAIR is a comprehensive solution that allows the monitoring, alerting and reporting on indoor air quality, and fully integrates with any i3TOUCH interactive display. Through ambient monitoring and data analytics, i3CAIR and other air quality monitors can promote wellbeing, health, and safety in classrooms and work environments through its "Well-being Index" that accurately measures four different parameters of optimal air quality, including: temperature, humidity, particulate matter and carbon dioxide. This may provide assurance to schools as they work to keep their classrooms and hallways safe.
In addition to wearing masks, personal protective barriers can act as sneeze guards and may help reduce the spread of the virus when distancing is unavailable. Our Essentials Mobile Clear Dividers can be used to write on and create spacing in between student desks. For desk protection, the Clarity Acrylic Desktop Dividers provide clear personal protection for student tables and can be easily attached.
Our DOC Mobile Partitions have been utilized in healthcare settings to create privacy and added space within overcrowded spaces. With bacteria resistant, dual-sided surfaces and a light, mobile base, these dividers are ideal for use in hospital rooms, nursing stations, and teachers lounges, where details can be easily shared and updated with no residual markings left behind.
The materials used to create classroom furniture matter. Having antimicrobial surfaces in classrooms can be beneficial when trying to keep furniture clean. Non-porous porcelain steel desks, like MooreCo’s Hierarchy Shapes desk, are superior to wooden desks, as they resist the growth of bacteria and don’t absorb water that can lead to mold growth. They were designed to be rearranged 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. For the COVID-19 era, creating distance within classrooms can be done by creating personalized workstations. Our Porcelain Steel Lapboards are ideal for individual work. Unlike paper, that needs to be recycled or passed to the teacher, lapboards minimize contact and are eco-friendly.
Mobile, Flexible Furniture
All of the experts in education, child development, and school design that MooreCo has spoken to for webinars and research say the same thing. After the pandemic, it will be of the utmost importance going forward to safeguard not only each student'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.
Although collaborative desk setup is great for active learning, desk separation in each room may be beneficial, depending on the learning environment and the needs of each student. It will create a flexible environment for students to work in a way that is comfortable to them, and will also be helpful if distancing is necessary. Workstations like the Enroll Tablet Chairs are easily configurable, mobile, and compact, and will be ideal for classroom design that facilitates spatial distancing without taking up too much room.
We now know that preventing the spread of COVID-19 depends largely on heightened hygiene practices like frequent handwashing, wearing masks, and disinfecting of surfaces and shared materials. This remains true even in 2021, as the Delta variant is more transmissible than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 . Keeping hands and supplies clean in each classroom will be paramount. Sanitation stations can be made easily from the Compass Cabinets, that can be moved easily throughout the room by teachers and students and contain the necessary equipment for staying safe. These include masks, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and any other supplies for reducing the spread.
We're Here to Help...
Are you interested in seeing the complete list of COVID solutions we offer? Check out our brochure. If you're looking for guidance for the best use of ESSER funds for your school, check out this helpful guide. We have been here to support our community of vendors and district leaders and we plan to be in it for the road ahead. Contact us and tell us how we can help your school thrive throughout the 2020-2021 school year!