Creating safe spaces is a task that most school administrators, superintendents, and school boards are facing. And while it may seem overwhelming to think about the safe social distancing that will be required to return to normal in person classes, there are some very specific strategies that may prove helpful. For example, with the use of warehouse partitioning systems and materials that had previously been used for prefabricated office spaces, it is possible to create spaces within spaces that might allow for a safer return to the classroom.

Fortunately, many of the newest school buildings already have the highest quality air ventilation systems because few of these buildings have windows that open to the outside. And just as the ventilation and air circulation systems of office buildings have been adapted to school settings, it is possible that techniques to create in plant offices might also be employed to make sure that every learning space is as safe as possible.

How Are You Preparing to Create the Safe Spaces That Your Teachers and Students Will Need in the Fall?

In an effort to return to life as close to normal as possible, today’s at educators, at every level, are going to need to think outside of the box. In fact, they may need to think of temporary ways to create new boxes with the use of materials that were originally designed for in plant offices. From creating directional materials that instruct students on one way hallways in a building to creating a schedule that will allow for students to not only have classes with the same set of students, but eat with them as well, there are many discussions that are part of the transitions that will be needed before classes resume at the end of the summer. Entire calendars are being created which may likely bring college students back to campus earlier than in the past so that first semesters can end before Thanksgiving break. Likewise, materials that have already been in high demand for in plant offices may be ordered for school districts to create extra contained spaces in large auditoriums and gyms. Creating a way to make these in plant offices designs so that they are portable and temporary, in fact, may be one of the best ways that school officials can prepare for what this next few school years may look like as the nation awaits a vaccine for the Coronavirus.

Permanent and relocatable are the two main types of modular construction, and it only makes sense that schools will likely make use of these materials to improve the spaces they already have. And while there are certainly many challenges that new space construction creates, it is good to know that as much as 60% to 90% of all prefabricated construction occurs in a warehouse or factory, meaning that these projects can be completed much faster when using these methods over traditional building options.
In addition to being a faster method of construction, there are studies from the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia that show that going modular can also reduce construction cost by 9% to 20%. This, of course, is an important factor as school districts are already dealing with funding issues in most parts of the country. Even more encouraging is the fact that modular methods allow for speedier construction times while still maintaining quality. One Chinese modular construction company, for instance, recently built a 57-story building in just 19 days. And as school officials are dealing with just a few short weeks before they may be expected to welcome students back into classrooms, it will take some fast solutions to create the best learning environments.

Engineers and educators alike can help create the best case scenarios as the nation attempts to deal with an unprecedented health threat. Finding a way to bring students and teachers back into the same space without having to rely on remote learning alone may seem challenging, but most educators believe that this, like other challenges they have faced in the past, is possible. Are you ready to be part of the solution and contribute in any way possible to education?

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