Going Back to School

How to navigate the safe return to the classroom

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

    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. 05/19/2020

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

    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. 05/18/2020

  • Episode 4
    Schools In Focus podcast logo. Robin Randall (R) and Sylvia Kowalk (L).

    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. 05/11/2020

  • Reopening Schools
    Classroom with agile furniture to accommodate proper social distancing.

    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. 05/08/2020

  • Reopening Schools
    A woman architect looking at blueprints with her laptop open.

    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 will be different, which raises many questions for those of us involved in the construction and design of academic facilities. 05/01/2020

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

    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. 04/29/2020