All Articles


Student washing hands with touchless faucet.

Cleaning

How to Improve Infection Control and Handwashing in School Restrooms

How do you create a hygienic and safe environment equipped to handle everyday usage and increased handwashing activity by students, faculty, administration and staff? And, how do you improve the restroom experience to make it more appealing to its users?

Schools in Focus podcast logo and Tom Saccenti

Podcast

Schools In Focus: Active Shooter Response Planning

In this episode, we spoke to Tom Saccenti, a former campus police chief and security expert, about active shooter response planning in schools. His first piece of advice is to walk through an active shooter scenario with all teachers, janitors, staff members, etc. at the school.

Office spaces at Scott Hall.

Acoustics

Retrofitting University Buildings for Sound Masking

When a physical space offers a little passive noise control, such as high cubicle walls, private offices or softer, sound-absorbing materials, the effects on the well-being of each person — as well as their productivity — can be profoundly impacted.

The university reported that stage lighting will resemble that of a café. Photo by David Kadlubowski, GCU News Bureau

Spaces

Grand Canyon U Students Help Build COVID-safe Outdoor Theatre

Faculty, staff and students at Grand Canyon University's College of Fine Arts and Production have constructed an outdoor theatre for use this play season, which addresses COVID-19 restrictions while still allowing students (and their audiences) to enjoy live productions.

Custodial worker using an autovac. Courtesy of Kaivac.

Cleaning

Proper Mop Care and Other Floor-Cleaning Systems Amid COVID-19

Floors are too often overlooked when it comes to fighting the spread of infection. For many years, many hospital administrators did not even believe it was necessary to disinfect floors. Now we know better. Floors, as well as the tools used to clean floors, deserve close attention when it comes to minimizing the spread of coronavirus.  

COVID-19

COVID-19 Cases Spread on Campus Due to Housing Settings and Social Gatherings, CDC Reports

Two new reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conclude that COVID-19 is spreading on college campuses due to congregate housing, the increase of social gatherings, and disregard for mask wearing.  

Architectural rendering of approved residence halls.

New Construction

California Northstate Receives Approval on New Modular Residence Hall

A private for-profit university in northern California has received city approval to build a new on-campus dormitory for its medical students.

3D rendering of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Laboratory. Source: St. Mary

New Construction

Construction Nears Completion on Drone Lab at St. Mary's University in TX

St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX is nearing completion of new drone lab, which is on target to be done in October.

Vail Valley Foundation’s YouthPower365, along with Winnebago’s Specialty Vehicle Division, unveiled an all-electric, emission-free vehicle called the “Magic Bus” Mobile Preschool.

Learning Spaces

All-Electric Mobile Preschool Brings Programming to Colorado

A Colorado non-profit will launch a mobile preschool experience in October for families with children ages 3 to 5 years old who do not attend a traditional preschool program.

As it moves throughout the room, the cbot sprays a cleaning agent that, according to the company, is effective against SARS CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that generates COVID-19, as well as other pathogens.

Cleaning

Cleaning Robot Pitched for Classrooms

Imagine a Roomba with a plastic pillar on top, roaming through a room dispensing disinfectant onto chairs, table-tops and other surfaces.



Maintenance of a building

HVAC

4 Ways Schools Can Improve Indoor Air Quality to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission

A building’s HVAC technology can help decrease the transmission rate or mitigate the risk of exposure. Thus, schools must consider their HVAC system as part of their overall COVID-19 mitigation strategy, in addition to social distancing, cleaning, screening, signage and operational practices.

Byron Nelson High School. Courtesy of Perkins and Will.

New Construction

Expansion and Renovation Completed at Byron Nelson HS in North Texas

The three-story, 75,000 square-foot expansion and renovation of the campus provides added capacity to a rapidly growing population in the Northwest Independent School District. The project was headed by Perkins & Will.

Contest

Second Annual 'Custodians Are Key' Contest Seeks Nominations

The eight-month campaign recognizes the work of K-12 custodians across the country and honors them and their school with a $15,000 prize package.

Flexible furniture to accommodate social distancing in a media center.

Media Centers

5 Ways to Redesign a Media Center During COVID-19

If the global pandemic sidelined your plans for creating a very inviting, collaborative, nurturing media center space, get your vision back on track with these five success tips.

Northwestern Athletics Add Filtration Systems

As part of a phased ramp-up in its return to full operations, Northwestern University Athletics and Recreation has installed filtration systems in the locker and weight rooms and other high-traffic spaces in its athletic facilities.

Software

School Communication System Adds Contact Tracing Features

SchoolStatus, which produces a mass notification and communication software-as-a-service platform for schools, has added functionality to enable contact tracing reporting and tracking.

Classrooms

Florida School Unveils New Building for Students with Dyslexia

Middle school students began classes on Monday at the newly constructed building at Roberts Academy, a private school for students with dyslexia.

Reopening

Residence Hall Staff and Grad Students at U of Michigan On Strike

Residence hall staff and graduate students at the University of Michigan are on strike due to lack of coronavirus health protections on campus. The grad students and residence hall staff began separate strikes on the same day, Sept. 8.  

Reopening

Bradley U Requires All Students to Quarantine for Two Weeks

Bradley University is requiring the entire student body to quarantine for two weeks because of a spike in COVID-19 on campus, officials announced this week. The temporary quarantine is in effect until Sept. 23.

Visioning workshops with district and community representatives help uncover concerns and goals. Photo: Courtesy of Finegold Alexander Architects.



Planning

CommUnity: Uniting Communities through School Design

At the onset of a project, the design team and the district must unite to develop the appropriate “Visioning Process” to gain input from teachers, administrators, parents, students, and members of the public. This typically takes the form of in-person workshops or on virtual platforms as we encountered this past spring. The architect can then use that feedback to develop a customized school design that meets the district’s goals and expectations.

Schools In Focus podcast logo and Belinda Oakley, CEO of Chartwells K12, and Seth Ferriell, CEO of SSC Services for Education.

Podcast

Schools In Focus: Food Service During a Pandemic

In this episode of Schools In Focus podcast, I speak to Belinda Oakley, CEO of Chartwells K12 and Seth Ferriell, CEO of SSC Services for Education, about school food service during a pandemic.

Walker Grant Center. OddBox Studios; courtesy of Rockfon

Acoustics

How the Right Acoustic Ceiling Can Improve a School's Performance

If there is not enough sound absorption in spaces for learning, they are overly loud, reverberant and stressful; not an environment conducive for effective education. Up to one of every four words cannot be understood by students in many classrooms, according to guidelines by the Acoustical Society of America.

Greta Thunberg speaking at a climate change protest in Rome.

Sustainability

Aspiration to Action: Gen Z’s Call for Change

Gen Z is advocating for immediate action to secure their future. However, limited by their age, Gen Z is looking to older generations to support them through social and legislative change and conscientious transformations — socially, educationally, and within the built-environment.

Full Facility Aerial From North Credit Paul Kennedy

Facility Focus: Northwestern University Walter Athletics Center and Ryan Fieldhouse

The complex itself, an impressive structure wrapped in glass, aluminum, and limestone on the northeast corner of the Northwestern campus, right on Lake Michigan—an enviable site not only for the dazzling lake view, but also for its proximity to the campus’ student residences, classrooms and other facilities.

Reopening

NYC Teachers and Principals Pressure Mayor de Blasio to Delay School Reopening

New York City public schools are set to reopen on Sept. 10. However, the city’s teachers, principals, and staff say schools are unprepared to reopen and are pressuring Mayor Bill de Blasio to delay the start of in-person instruction by several weeks.

Aerial photo of a building

HVAC

Using AI to Ensure Healthy Air In School Facilities

AI can change its instructions to your HVAC equipment based on the number of students in a room, the time of day, changes in weather throughout the day, and more, all while ensuring a comfortable environment for your building occupants.

AI Welcome Center automatically turns on when a person faces it. Then it performs a quick temperature measure with laser-sensing technology and checks for face masks using "vision AI."

Products

"Welcome Center" Automates Health, Mask Check-in

A company that produces technology for the food industry has developed a "welcome center" that schools can use to automate student and staff check-in.

Energy Harness

HVAC

Ceiling Unit Uses UVC Light to Clean Classroom Air

A Florida company with an office in Purdue Research Park has introduced a technology it said would help schools reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Schools In Focus Podcast logo and Stu Rothenberger

Episode 5

Schools In Focus: Rethinking Higher Ed Spaces

Stu Rothenberger, Principal at DLR Group, discusses flexibility on a campus scale, the need for long-term resiliency plans, tackling equity issues, and creating smaller interaction spaces in a post-COVID19 learning environment.

Teacher disinfecting classroom desks.

Cleaning & Sanitizing

Are We Disinfecting Too Much?

Will a more methodical, well-thought-out approach be implemented for disinfectant use or, will they be once again randomly applied, essentially using a “hope for the best” mentality? Let’s hope application is not random, and here is why. In the U.S., disinfectants are considered “pesticides” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and rightly so.

Student wearing a face mask stands in front of thermal imaging device.

Safety and Security

Why Now Is the Time for Schools to Re-Evaluate Safety Plans

Many of the CDC’s guidelines can be met through the use of technology, and schools should be investing in and implementing technology solutions that not only helps them adhere to CDC guidelines this fall, but bolsters their overall school safety now and in the future.

The screening solutions let employees and visitors self-assess their health and wellness through web- and email-based tools before requesting access to a building.

Access Control

Facility Access Tools Repositioned for New Occupancy Controls

A company that produces physical security products is repositioning its products to address the needs of facilities under new restrictions. The offerings from LenelS2 cover touchless access, occupancy management, enforced access control and screening solutions.

Layout of shared bathrooms by KWK Architects.

Facilities

Residence Hall Designs Expected to Shift in Response to COVID-19

Emphasis on single sleeping unit spaces will probably dominate in residence hall design in coming months and years, along with common areas that encourage physical distancing, wider entrances and kitchens that allow for one-way traffic patterns. Those are the predictions of student housing design experts at KWK Architects.

Healthy Schools

Ed Tech Company Releases COVID-19 Training Videos

An education technology company that produces training has compiled a set of videos to help districts prepare for school reopenings.

Student using her tablet at her desk. Two other students are in the background working at their desk.

Technology

Learning Space Design Plays a Key Role in Supporting Tech Use

What does it mean for a learning space to support the use of technology? It means the space has been intentionally designed to make it easy for teachers and students to seamlessly use any technology they might need, without having to disrupt a lesson or cut into valuable learning time.

Safely Reopening

Chicago Public Schools Hosts Feedback Meetings This Week on Reopening Plan

Chicago Public Schools is conducting several virtual meetings this week to gather feedback on the district’s reopening plans for the fall. The first one was held Monday morning

A row of fitness equipment.

Maintenance and Operations

Keeping Campus Rec Areas and Equipment Clean During a Pandemic

As universities begin to welcome students back, directors of college recreational centers will need to develop plans, policies and protocols to maintain a safe and healthy environment. The many “moving parts” that make up college recreational center operations present some unique challenges for maintaining a safe and clean facility.

Sustainability

LA Community Colleges Vows to Eliminate Carbon Footprint by 2040

The Los Angeles Community College District has vowed to eliminate its carbon footprint entirely over the next two decades.

Man speaking in a video conference.

Planning

How to Keep COVID-19 from Negatively Impacting Learning Space Design

Here are five ways that K-12 school districts can keep their learning space design projects on track in a world where social distancing rules and shutdowns interfere with normal operations.

Parents Create COVID-Screening App for Schools

Dr. Brian Benson, a family physician and his wife, Kaley Benson developed a symptom-screening software for schools called Cleared4School.

"ViralBarrier" from Precise Tooling Solutions is intended specifically for K-12 and higher education use.

"Viral Barrier" Provides Physical Distancing Shield

"ViralBarrier" from Precise Tooling Solutions is intended specifically for K-12 and higher education use.

Meter ranging from green, yellow and red with the word "risk" underneath it with arrow pointing towards "high."

School Safety and Security: The Value of Knowing What You Don’t Know

School districts should conduct comprehensive threat vulnerability assessments that not only focus on existing measures already in place, but also encapsulate a thorough review of operational safety and security focused policies and procedures.

Worker on roof adjusting solar panels.

Six Key Factors for a Successful Solar Project

Several colleges and universities are pursuing solar solutions for two major reasons: to save money on energy costs and/or to meet sustainability goals through renewable energy projects. Whether you’re already pursuing a solar solution or just starting to consider your options, there are some important considerations to keep in mind, as well as certain factors that go into the most successful solar projects.

Reopening Schools

Rural Wisconsin Districts Seek Early School Start

Rural school districts in Wisconsin have asked the state to begin school earlier than usual citing concerns that the pandemic has interfered with student progress.

Hy-Lite

Furniture and Equipment

Rolling Privacy Panels Facilitate Physical Distancing

U.S.-based Hy-Lite said its new panels are made of architectural-grade acrylic blocks that allow light through while protecting privacy.

Rolling doors installed in cafeterias can keep schools safe during extreme weather.

Life Safety

Specifying for Extreme Weather Preparedness and Safety

The inclusion of storm shelters, safe rooms and best available refuge areas are steadily increasing, especially due to recent code changes in the heart of the United States. By specifying commercial rolling doors and shutters that meet strict wind load and flying projectile requirements, classroom pods, cafeterias and gymnasiums can maintain a welcoming appeal while able to transform into a safe space within seconds.

LA and San Diego Schools to Hold Online-Only Classes in The Fall

Los Angeles Unified School District and San Diego Unified School District announced they will not reopen for in-person classes next month due to increasing COVID-19 cases.

Kim Consavage, a member of Michigan State

Construction

Michigan State Halts Construction on Three Major Projects

Michigan State University has put the brakes on a number of campus construction projects to address a funding gap posed by the impact of the pandemic.

E.J. Whitmire Stadium at Western Carolina University, in busier days. Source: Western Carolina University

Sports Facilities

Western Carolina U Chooses Woolpert for Stadium Project

A North Carolina institution is almost finished with a million-dollar project in its stadium. The Western Carolina University project included the removal, demolition and replacement of the existing synthetic turf field and the addition of a new synthetic turf practice area.

Reopening

Texas Education Agency Issues Guidelines for Reopening Schools

School districts must offer daily on-campus instruction for all students who wishes to attend, but any parent may request for their child to receive virtual instruction from any school that offers such instruction.