All Articles


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Examples of various signage for schools. Illustrations By Chelsea Lott, Graphic Designer (PBK)

Reopening Schools

Signs of The Times: Utilizing Graphics to Safely Transition Back to School

Overall, signage provides a cost-effective and direct solution to the question, “How does the coronavirus change our schools?” Signage plays a role in helping people feel comfortable in their environments and understanding what is expected of them in certain spaces.

Health Sciences Facilities

U North Florida Gets $6 million to Start Setting up "MedNexus"

The University of North Florida has received $6 million in the latest state budget to build what the university has named the UNF MedNexus. The intent is to create an operation that connects regional healthcare providers with university students, faculty and researchers.

Stevens College of Tech Expanding Footprint with New Diesel School. Source: Greenfield Architects

Stevens College of Tech Expanding Footprint with New Diesel School

Construction has begun on a new facility that will be leased by a Pennsylvania college. Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology is expecting to move into the new building by June 1, 2021.

Reopening

Texas A&M Converting Sports Venues, Other Facilities into Class Spaces

Texas A&M said it would convert non-traditional spaces into classrooms for the fall semester, which starts on Aug. 19.

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.

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.

Finlandia

Health Sciences Facilities

Finlandia U Plans Fall Opening of New Health Sciences Facility

Finlandia University's College of Health Sciences will be ready to receive students in fall 2020 in its new location, in spite of project delays due to a COVID-19 outbreak, according to the institution.

Contest

Tennant Company Awards Grand Prize in "Custodians Are Key" Contest

The inaugural “Custodians Are Key” contest launched in September and recognizes the work of K-12 custodians around the country. Kris Kantor of Hayes Elementary in Lakewood, Ohio is the grand prize winner and will receive a prize valued $5,000, while his school receives $10,000.

theater renovation

Building Blueprints

Setting the Stage for Success

academic design and construction

Design-Build

Why Design-Build Merits Serious Consideration for Academic Design & Construction

The academic sector is the perfect use case for exploring how design-build is the best delivery system for mitigating risk, increasing the speed of delivery, lowering costs, and delivering great design – all through a simpler, more collaborative process.

sensory room

Sensory Rooms

Sensory Rooms May Help Ease the Anxiety Students Feel from COVID-19

The stimulating environment of a sensory room may heighten awareness, provide a sense of security and comfort, improve creativity, promote mental and physical relaxation, and even decrease aggressive behaviors.

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.