Healthy Schools

The built environment impacts the health of students and staff. The following resources support the development of healthy physical environments – from the safe handling of hazardous materials; to improving indoor air quality; the proper use of cleaning products and pesticides; remediating asbestos, lead, mold; and other environmental concerns.



  • Indoor Air Quality

    Helping McMaster University Adapt its Buildings for the Future

    McMaster University is using technology to better control and manage its legacy thermal systems and create smarter buildings. Carmichael Engineering Ltd., a Canadian systems integrator, worked closely with ABB Canada’s leading experts and its highly adaptable smart building platform, ABB Cylon®, to improve energy efficiency, enhance user adaptability, and leverage innovative technologies in locations across campus. 02/22/2024

  • Healthy Schools

    Unveiling the Research-Based Benefits of Sensory Movement Pathways for Children

    Incorporating sensory movement pathways in schools can offer several benefits for students' physical, cognitive, and emotional development. These pathways are designed to engage multiple senses and provide students with a structured way to engage in physical movement throughout the day. Sensory movement pathways, also known as sensory pathways or sensory trails, have gained attention for their potential benefits in promoting children's physical, cognitive, and emotional development. 12/05/2023

  • Healthy Schools

    Three Truths About Meeting Sustainability Mandates in K–12 Schools

    Today’s K–12 leaders are tasked with everything from adhering to rigorous academic standards to implementing operational procedures to building healthy school communities, and for many, sustainability unintentionally falls to the bottom of the priority list. Further, the cost of taking on green initiatives is on the rise, making it even more of a challenge for financially strapped school districts to meet sustainability expectations and commitments. 09/05/2023

  • Healthy Schools

    Hygiene and Cleanliness are Top-of-Mind this Back-to-School Season

    Summer is flying by, which means a new school year is around the corner. As students begin to fill the hallways, so does an inevitable influx of germs and illnesses. A successful school year starts with creating a safe and healthy environment to welcome students back. Prepare your building for a new school year with these hygiene and cleaning recommendations. 08/15/2023

  • Indoor Air Quality

    Your School’s Unseen Health Threat: Indoor Air Quality

    With the start of a new school year, the health & wellness of students, teachers, and school district employees has become—more than ever—a top priority and concern. 08/09/2023

  • Active Learning Spaces

    Bringing STEAM to Life in the K–12 Classroom

    What if you could apply crucial STEAM concepts in a way that engages students like never before? 05/30/2023

  • HVAC
    ESSER Funds for HVAC

    How ESSER Funds Can Help with HVAC Upgrades

    The importance of HVAC units in schools was brought to the forefront when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the early parts of 2020. The federal government also took notice as they issued approximately $190 billion in COVID relief funds through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). 05/15/2023

  • person using calculator across from someone using a computer

    How Schools Can Maximize COVID Relief Funds

    ESSER and EANS funds are designed to help schools reopen quickly and safely, as well as address the months of significant learning loss by U.S. students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only now are experts beginning to understand the full scope of learning loss brought on by a year-plus of the pandemic – and initial reports are worrying. 10/01/2021

  • Schools Reopen with Federal Dollars

  • Editor's Note

    The Slow Return to Normalcy

  • Indoor Air Quality in Schools Is Necessary

    It is a well-known fact that the environment affects human performance, both physically and mentally. This is especially true for students, who are impacted by the quality of air in their learning environment. 10/01/2021

  • adult helping child wash their hands

    It's Everyone's Role To Keep Our Schools Healthy, Safe and Open

    Standard hygiene practices, like proper handwashing, are more important than ever. 10/01/2021

  • COVID-19 and Schools
    Stimulus Funding and School Infrastructure

    How Stimulus Funding Can Tackle School Infrastructure Updates

    As schools and universities prepare for the return of students and faculty after nearly a year of remote learning, many are faced with growing concerns around how to keep facilities safe in the post-pandemic world. This is doubly true when considering that crucial HVAC and building management systems (BMS) are often outdated and in need of replacement. 08/11/2021

  • HVAC & IAQ
    man cleaning ventilation screen

    Healthy Air Must Flow

  • IAQ
    air purification

    Reimagining Air Purification in Classrooms After COVID-19

  • IAQ
    ERVs recovery system

    Safeguard Schools Against COVID-19 Efficiently via Energy Recovery Ventilation

  • Editor's Note

    The Light at the End of the Tunnel

  • IAQ
    HVAC fans

    Mitigating the Risk of COVID-19 and Improving Indoor Air Quality in Schools

  • Bowling Green State University Business School

    Not Just Business As Usual

  • COVID-19 and Schools
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    CDC Revises Social Distancing Guidelines in Schools to 3 Feet

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Friday, March 19, that it is relaxing social distancing requirements for students returning to school for in-person learning. The organization has determined that students wearing masks in a classroom environment can be spaced just 3 feet apart. 03/22/2021

  • Health Policy

    CDC Releases Updated Guidance Plan for Reopening Schools

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an updated guide on how K-12 schools around the country can take steps to safely reopen—for good. 02/12/2021

  • Podcast
    Schools In Focus: Talking Campus Security with Mitch McKinley

    Schools In Focus: Talking Campus Security with Mitch McKinley

  • Podcast
    Schools In Focus podcast logo and Mike Wolf and Ron Wendorski

    Schools In Focus: Indoor Air Quality

  • Cleaning & Maintenance
    Someone with blue rubber gloves wiping down a desk.

    Does Your School Maintenance Plan Pass the Test?

    Although you set your initial school maintenance plan during the late summer months, now is a good time to evaluate its effectiveness, find opportunities to refine your processes, and make sure you and your teams are doing all you can to safeguard students and staff if and when they enter your doors in person. 12/07/2020

  • Reader Survey
    reader survey

    The Ongoing Impact of COVID-19 Policy in Education

    COVID-19 has changed and will continue to change every aspect of education in K–12 and higher education for the foreseeable future. We polled our readership to learn of the experiences taking place across the nation and get a glimpse of what's being planned going into the spring 2021 semester and beyond. 12/01/2020

  • Cleaning/Maintenance
    Social distancing markers on school hallway.

    Studying Up: Preparing for Flu Season

    This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu is more important than ever. 11/30/2020

  • Classroom Spaces
    Outdoor learning pavilion at Linden Waldorf School in Nashville, TN.

    With New Open-Air Classrooms, Nashville Private School Moves Learning Outdoors

    With a curriculum centered on connection to nature and environmental stewardship, Linden Waldorf School's vision for the pavilions were to move all classes completely outdoors where students get to be in nature throughout the whole school day. 11/06/2020

  • Cleaning
    Student washing hands with touchless faucet.

    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? 10/20/2020

  • Cleaning
    Custodial worker using an autovac. Courtesy of Kaivac.

    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.   10/06/2020

  • HVAC
    Maintenance of a building

    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. 09/28/2020

  • Media Centers
    Flexible furniture to accommodate social distancing in a media center.

    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. 09/21/2020

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

    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. 09/08/2020

  • HVAC
    Aerial photo of a building

    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. 08/18/2020

  • Cleaning & Sanitizing
    Teacher disinfecting classroom desks.

    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. 08/12/2020

  • Episode 5
    Schools In Focus Podcast logo and Stu Rothenberger

    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. 08/12/2020

  • Safety and Security
    Student wearing a face mask stands in front of thermal imaging device.

    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. 08/03/2020

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

    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. 07/27/2020

  • Planning
    Man speaking in a video conference.

    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. 07/22/2020

  • Maintenance and Operations
    A row of fitness equipment.

    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. 07/22/2020

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

    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. 07/08/2020

  • Building Blueprints
    theater renovation

    Setting the Stage for Success

  • Sensory Rooms
    sensory room

    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. 07/01/2020

  • 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. 07/01/2020

  • Furniture and Classroom Spaces
    Classroom with a variety of movable furniture and seats.

    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. 06/29/2020

  • Planning and Design
    Austin Community College, Elgin Campus. Photo by Mark Menjivar.

    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? 06/23/2020

  • Reopening
    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.

    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. 06/17/2020

  • Safely Reopening
    Classroom with agile furniture spaced at six feet apart.

    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. 06/10/2020

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

    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. 06/01/2020

  • 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. 05/28/2020


  • New Acoustical Solutions — From the Top Down

    Acoustics isn't only about creating quite classrooms. It's a critical part of the overall IEQ of a school—from classrooms to nurses' offices to administration spaces. New and better technologies exist to give schools solutions that achieve what is needed in today's world while keeping budget parameters in mind. These acoustical solutions start at the top with ceilings, and not all ceilings are alike.

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