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Social distancing in Schools: Rolling Occupancy – Educational Projects.

Gensler Architects are exploring a question that is on everyone’s mind these days: “How will educational design respond to the COVID -19 pandemic?” Their clients – school boards, universities, colleges, private institutions etc. are faced with a growing uncertainty stemming from unpredictable student enrollment and government funding. It all comes back to two questions:

  1. In the short term what happens as we return to school in a post COVID-19 era?
  2. In the long term what can we learn from this experience that we can carry forward to future-proof our campuses?

Gensler’s conclusion is that schools will never return to the status quo. Everything, especially Interior Design and associated products, will  have to adapt to a new normal. I have taken two of their design conclusions and looked at them as it relates to Moderco products. The majority of their conclusions and predictions relate to “space” and how it is best utilized based on the permanent need for physical distancing.

How do you teach the same number of students in a building without increasing its size but also requiring safe distancing? Answer: maximize the use of space with the use of operable partitions.

It is unlikely that faculty, staff and students will return all at once. “Rolling Occupancy” strategies that enable safe distancing, will be created in order to de-densify existing space & use underutilized space. For example a K-12 school may have two separate teaching schedules per day (say 7 AM to 12 and 12 to 5) rather than the conventional 9 to 3. Based on this concept, the requirements of any area may change depending on need. This space will have to be reconfigured between the morning and afternoon schedules. Operable partitions are the perfect choice to create these variable “rolling occupancy” space configurations.

Schools will have to rethink how they use their space. Instead of identifying space for a specific purpose only (example a music room) the use of operable partitions will provide opportunities to maximize the use of all space based on varying needs. A room may be a conventional classroom in the morning and then an area can be created, larger or smaller, to teach dance or gymnastics in the afternoon: all based on a quick reconfiguration of the operable wall systems installed. Again the idea is to provide for safe distancing based on participant size. It is an undeniable fact that all space will have to be used all of the time with the space adapted to fit the need. Distancing requirements demand the use of all space all of the time.

When students and faculty return they will bring with them new insight, perspective and behaviour patterns. These emerging behaviours will demand new types of space. The use of Moderco Operable Partitions is able to provide the flexibility for both learning and distancing requirements of the new normal. Utilizing Moderco Signature and Excel Acoustical Operable Wall systems or Crystal Acoustical Glass wall Systems in a customized layout will transform an educational building from a series of boxes divided by corridors into one that provides flexibility and multi-use opportunities.

Call Moderco at 1800 363-3150 so we can begin to work together to solve your social distancing needs.