All Articles


Editor's Note

A New Back-to-School Experience

proper distancing in schools

Rethinking School Spaces and Structures to Maintain Proper Distancing Amid COVID-19

When students finally return to school after months of learning from home, there will be dramatic changes. Even when K-12 leaders are allowed to reopen their facilities, doing so safely and responsibly will require everyone to maintain proper distancing while they’re at school, experts agree — at least until there is a working vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.

cooperative purchasing for schools

Procurement

Trends in Cooperative Purchasing

School districts see value in using cooperative purchasing entities as they get a steady, predictable pricing structure and supplier source.

Reopening Schools

Utah Gov. Approves Board of Education Requirements for Reopening Schools

Gov. Gary Herbert approved the Utah State Board of Education’s requirements and recommendations for reopening schools in the state. As per the requirements, all Utah public schools must have reopening plans in place and posted online by August 1.

Classroom with a variety of movable furniture and seats.

Furniture and Classroom Spaces

Versatility Is a Critical Design Element for Modern Learning Spaces — And COVID Reinforces This Idea

Even before COVID-19 forced K-12 leaders to rethink the design of school spaces, versatility was an important design element for classrooms and other instructional environments. Once life returns to normal, versatility will continue to be a critical design element.

Group of students seated next to each other.

Industry Spotlight

Q&A with the Editor: Tim Nyblom and Dave O’Driscoll, HID Global

We spoke to HID Global's Tim Nyblom, End User Business Manager - Higher Ed, and Dave O’Driscoll, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives, about cloud and mobile technologies that will be important when universities reopen in the fall and in the next few years.

Austin Community College, Elgin Campus. Photo by Mark Menjivar.

Planning and Design

Design Considerations for Supporting Student Resiliency

How can higher education institutions incorporate student success in their resilience planning process as they consider future impacts on campuses? And how can design professionals use their knowledge and skills to support this effort?

Empty school hallway with yellow lockers.

Safety & Security

Gunfire Detection Systems Are More Important Than Ever in a World Impacted by COVID-19

To aid in a rapid response, innovative technology companies have developed powerful gunfire detection systems to greatly reduce the time required before a suspect is apprehended.

Reopening

Wisconsin’s Education Agency Issues Guidance for Reopening Schools

The Department of Public Instruction recommends smaller class sizes, alternating school-day schedules, and providing mental health support for students and staff.

A woman student wearing a face mask looks at her phone while a few feet away a male student wearing a face mask looks at a book.

Reopening

Q&A with a Facility Services Expert: Protocols for Reopening Colleges and Universities

As colleges and universities make plans to reopen facilities in the fall, higher ed decision makers must consider a variety of issues while COVID-19 continues to spread in communities across the country. A facility services expert shares strategies and protocols used to ensure a healthy environment for students, faculty and staff.



Reopening

Dallas ISD Considering In-Person, Virtual, Hybrid Instruction Options

Dallas ISD is waiting on direction from the state and haven’t solidified plans, yet. In the meantime, the district has created a first draft of safety and security guidelines for campus reentry, along with three different potential instructional models.

Classroom with flexible furniture at West Rowan Elementary School.

Furniture

Five Tips for Creating a Vibrant, Modern Learning Space

Here are five tips that all K-12 schools can use to break out of the one-size-fits-all classroom furniture model and create modern, engaging spaces for 21st Century learners.

Classroom with agile furniture spaced at six feet apart.

Safely Reopening

How to Support Active Learning During a Pandemic

The design of the learning space will play a critical role in enabling active learning to occur in a responsible manner.

Rendering of Future College

New Construction

UCSD Forges Ahead on Two "Neighborhood" Projects

While the University of California San Diego has put some projects on hold due to financial constraints introduced by the pandemic, the university is forging ahead with construction work on its North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood and planning for its Future College Living and Learning Neighborhood.

An illustration of the aerial view of the stadium.

New Construction

School Board Votes to Move Joint District/University Stadium Project Ahead

Des Moines' school board approved a resolution to continue work on a stadium that will serve the school district and Drake University.

Elementary student taking notes and watching his teacher on an open laptop screen.

Technology

With E-Learning, School Districts Are Building the Foundation for Better Learning Outcomes

When the pandemic subsides, districts that haven’t already will likely take a closer look at e-learning and the skills and solutions that make it possible.

Child working on homework.

How to Overcome the "COVID Slide"

The COVID slide could exacerbate existing achievement gaps if K-12 leaders don’t take action. Here are four strategies that can help solve this challenge.

Concept for "Vida," the first of three buildings that will make up the Denver-based Spur campus as part of the Colorado State University System. From The Clark Enersen Partners

New Construction

Colorado System Breaks Ground on Spur Campus

Although the usual groundbreaking celebration was put off due to COVID-19, the Colorado State University System broke ground this month on its newest campus. The Denver site, dubbed "Spur," will eventually include three buildings, focused on the studies of food, water and health.

A rendering of a parking structure, which is among the 16 campus facilities slated for solar panel installation at Emory University. Source: Cherry Street Energy

Emory Adding 15,000 Solar Panels

The Atlanta-based institution will be installing more than 15,000 solar panels on 16 campus buildings. That represents 5.5 megawatts of solar generation, enough to produce about a tenth of the university's peak energy requirements.

Reopening

College Presidents Say a Fall Opening Is Likely, According to Survey

Three-hundred and ten presidents responded to the survey on topics such as “their current plans for the fall, including actions they may require to consider reopening campus, the impact of the pandemic on future revenue, and the projected impact on fall enrollment numbers.”

Online Learning

Florida School District Provides Free Online Kindergarten-Readiness Program

About 500 Pre-K students at Escambia County School District will have access to a free online summer education program designed to help children make up for lost learning due to the coronavirus.

NC State University’s Talley Student Union

Facilities

Design for Post-Millennials: How Gen Z Is Shaping Higher Ed Spaces

They are the first generation to be immersed in technology since birth, experiencing it as an extension of daily life. As future Gen Zers progress through our learning institutions, their characteristics, wants and needs will further shape K-12 education environments, university campuses and future workplaces.

Elementary students in a classroom working at their desks.

Classroom Components

Comfort Is Critical for Student Success. Here Are 3 Simple Factors to Consider.

Why address comfort in the design of a learning space? When students are physically comfortable, they’re more at ease: They can relax, block out negative thoughts and focus more effectively on instruction.

Nurse taking the temperature of a student. Both are wearing face masks.

Reopening Schools

How School Nurses Are Critical in Back-to-School Planning Amid COVID-19

School nurses bring a broad set of skills and experience in the monitoring of student and staff wellness, and they’re a critical resource as K-12 leaders plan to reopen schools amid a global pandemic.

Construction

Binghamton U Puts Most Construction on Hold During Virus Closures

Directions issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in late March suspended all non-essential construction activity in New York, leaving universities and colleges scrambling to put construction projects on hold in a manner that would allow them to pick up the work when closures have been lifted. At Binghamton University, part of the State University of New York system, that affected numerous building sites.

Construction

Construction Workers Get Back to Work at U Michigan

Construction sites in Michigan that were under state shutdown orders are starting work again — including at the University of Michigan. The institution has begun working with state officials to crank up activities on multiple projects, including new construction and renovation and addition work.

Safely Reopening

Baylor Fall Planning Heavy on Flexibility

Although Baylor University intends to return to in-person classes in the fall, the Texas institution said that doesn't mean it's planning for a "normal start."

COVID-19

Appalachian State Announces 16 Cases of COVID-19 Among Construction Workers

Appalachian State University recently learned that 16 subcontracted workers have tested positive for COVID-19.

Young woman sitting at a desk looking at her laptop in a bedroom.

Student Housing

Out of the Cloud: The Future of Student Housing

Just as our homes have once again become the epicenters of our lives under quarantine — leading us to consider and re-evaluate their design — student housing facilities will likewise undergo massive changes in response to new hygiene concerns and lifestyle desires of students and their families.

Woman taking the temperature of a child who is wearing a face mask and a backpack with a contactless thermometer.

Reopening Schools

Here’s What Designers and Architects Anticipate Schools Will Look Like in the Fall and After COVID-19

We asked designers and architects from across the country what they anticipate classrooms will look like in the fall if they were to reopen, how the coronavirus will impact school design in the long-term, and suggestions on design concepts schools can implement right away to help with social distancing in facilities. Their answers offer insight to available design options and possibilities that can help school leaders plan and make the best decisions for their students and staff.

Ohio Community College Launches Tuition Assistance Program

Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cleveland, Ohio will cover tuition for students facing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

Empty classroom. Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

COVID-19

UPDATED: Resources for Educational Facilities During COVID-19

With COVID-19 changing the educational landscape each day, school and college decision makers need all the help they can get during this global crisis. Here are some resources on everything schools and colleges need to consider regarding educational facilities, construction, design and planning of new facilities, maintenance, managing employees and much more. (Updated 5/13)

Reopening Schools

Montana School Reopens With Safety Measures

Students at Willow Creek School in Montana returned to school on Thursday. The school, which serves between 50-60 students in grades K-12, is one of the first in the United States to reopen after schools closed in March.

Schools In Focus podcast logo. Robin Randall (R) and Sylvia Kowalk (L).

Episode 4

Schools In Focus: COVID-19 and the Impact on School Design

As schools across the country figure out how to safely reopen schools, we wonder: how will COVID-19 impact school design? Senior editor Yvonne Marquez discusses with Sylvia Kowalk and Robin Randall from Legat Architects on what changes we might see as schools reopen.

Classroom with agile furniture to accommodate proper social distancing.

Reopening Schools

Rethinking School Spaces and Structures to Maintain Proper Distancing Amid COVID-19

As you rethink the design of educational spaces and structures to keep your communities safe and healthy when schools reopen, here are some possible strategies and issues to consider.

Carrie Busey Elementary School library carpet tile. Credit: Scott Berman

Components & Materials

It’s All in the Details: Walls, Ceilings and Floors

Walls, ceilings and floors, along with all interior and other building elements, must meet budgetary, acoustic, resilience, sustainability and maintenance requirements, with builders weighing such factors and others. Here are some ways that schools are making their interiors stand out.

Illinois State Board of Education Issues Guidance on Graduation Ceremonies

The board strongly encourages districts to hold digital events and to use social media to highlight graduates with hashtags and messages. The board will allow in-person graduation events including “drive-in” and “drive-through” ceremonies.

Reopening Schools

DISD Superintendent: “Highly doubtful” of return to regular school days in August

Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa laid out several possibilities for classes in August.

Awards & Recognition

Entries Now Open for New Product of the Year Award

Spaces4Learning has opened its 2020 New Product of the Year award program. Each year, the program recognizes new and emerging products and technologies for the outstanding contributions they make to K–12 and higher education.

A woman architect looking at blueprints with her laptop open.

Reopening Schools

What Schools and Colleges Have to Rethink for Fall 2020

The fall of 2020 will be different. Nobody knows for sure what it will look like, but most would agree that it <em>will</em> be different, which raises many questions for those of us involved in the construction and design of academic facilities.

Children in winter coats and hats wearing face masks and walking on sidewalk.

Reopening Schools

Living (and Learning) with COVID-19: Best Practices for Reopening Schools

While the attention so far has been focused mainly on ensuring that all students continue to receive a high-quality learning experience from home, leaders are now shifting their focus to how they can safely and responsibly reopen schools. Here are eight key suggestions for keeping students and staff safe when schools reopen.

Children meditating in a classroom.

Healthy Schools

How to Incorporate Mindfulness in the Classroom

Pre-K and kindergarten students at Centner Academy in Miami begin their school day with a mindfulness practice. Here is how it's helping students cope with changes due to coronavirus and some tips to incorporate mindfulness in the classroom.

A custodial worker using an electrostatic mister to clean an office.

Cleaning and COVID-19

Combating COVID-19 with Electrostatic Misters

This cleaning process provides more thorough coverage, essentially leaving no place for germs and pathogens, including those that cause COVID-19, to hide.

Business

Michigan Community Colleges See Decline in Summer Enrollment

Michigan community colleges are seeing a decline in summer enrollment, an indication of what’s to come in the fall.

Food Service

Houston ISD and Houston Food Bank Distribute Food to More Than 4,000 Cars

Houston ISD and Houston Food Bank officials handed out 90,000 pounds of food at NRG Stadium on Saturday, April 18.

Schools In Focus podcast logo and Dr. Greg Whiteley

Episode 3

Schools In Focus: Expert Advice on COVID-19 Cleaning

In this episode, we talk about the short-term and long-term goals of keeping school facilities clean amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grant

IIE to Provide Emergency Funding for International Students

The organization is calling IIE Network Member institutions to nominate international students who are not able to return to their home countries over the summer due to COVID-19 for a grant of up to $2,500.

Contingency Planning

Boston University Plans for Possible Delay of Fall Semester

Boston University is planning for the possibility that the fall term might have to be delayed and instead reopened in January 2021.

Construction

New Jersey Halts Construction Except for Schools, Hospitals, and Other Projects

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced the indefinite halt to non-essential construction, effective April 10 at 8 p.m. The new executive order tightens restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Berkner STEM Exploration Center features flexible and adaptable spaces.

STEM

First Look: Berkner STEM Exploration Center

When students return to school at Richardson Independent School District near Dallas, Texas, they will be able to utilize a brand-new state-of-the-art STEM facility that is open to all K-12 students in the district. Designed by Perkins and Will, the Berkner STEM Exploration Center was created for students of all ages.