Updated: May 2
Facility Executive released a recent article about wellness and education facilities. The pandemic has shown, more than ever, the great impact that classroom's design has on mental and physical health. Learning environments now have to overcome challenges such as how students and teachers feel but also biosecurity.
“Classrooms face some of the biggest challenges for preventing spread and it’s adding a lot of stress for teachers and administrators, as well as students and their families. It’s no surprise that all the changes due to the pandemic have left nearly half of Americans (48%) feeling more stressed and anxious, 47% experiencing worsened sleeping habits, and 29% feeling like they don’t have a healthy work-life balance, according to a 2021 Kelton Global ‘Wellness at Work’ Study on behalf of my company, National Business Furniture (NBF)”.
Let’s review some ideas of how it is possible to incorporate wellness into school daily life for students and staff:
Middle & High School Classrooms
For kids of this age, the most important thing is to optimize the social interaction with space to ensure “that it doesn’t cause confusion and impact student performance”. Here some ideas on how to maintain biosecurity by not being intrusive to daily schooling activities.
“Control the flow throughout aisles of desks by using floor-mounted decals that show what direction students should be walking in”.
“Keep each workstation limited to one student per-table or desk”.
“Try to make these wayfinding guides and any informational signage less daunting and more integrated into students’ day-to-day. A lot of commercial decals and supplies can have aggressive color schemes and iconography”:
“Incorporate reusable workstations that can be easily cleaned such as white board tables and large white boards for classroom instruction”.
“Look for easy-to-clean classroom furniture. Avoid upholstery and use synthetic materials — as fabrics are one of the most porous materials, even when treated with antimicrobial coatings. Vinyl offers a durable and cleanable option”.
Each college classroom has a different layout, that is why it is so important to set up spaces to support social distancing but in a way that “can’t be circumvented by instructors who are in and out of spaces'.
“Stay stocked up on cleaning and sanitizing supplies in each classroom. With a high turnover of both students and staff, communicating easy-to-follow clean up policies is just as necessary as it is to provide the tools to keep each classroom clean”.
“In more relaxed meeting areas, ensure that seating is well-spaced and that physical boundaries are used to discourage moving chairs too close together. End tables, fake plants, and small bookcases can create immovable partitions that encourage proper spacing”.
Spaces dedicated for administrators and teachers must also have a wellness focused design.
“Refresh offices and teachers lounges in subtle ways that won’t break the bank, such as refreshing paint colors. Pastels are a safe and effective choice, such as a light blue, purple, orange, or yellow”.
“Ensure that shared offices have enough space between desks and that any meeting tables have clear acrylic partitions that can be placed between students and staff. Due to age restrictions on vaccinations, it is for the good of both parties to ensure that COVID spread is limited as best as possible”.
“Make sure that amenities are safe and sanitary. Try to make sure that utensils and cups are single use and that it’s easy to clean any shared appliances in the breakroom. Additional amenities, such as personal bottles of hand sanitizer or masks in your school colors, can make it easy for staff to keep up with their own cleanliness without adding to their financial burden”.
At MKThink we are also looking at how learning environments can adapt to our evolving needs over time and how those spaces are designed considering factors such as wellbeing and learning outcomes.
To read more about the article discussed above: https://facilityexecutive.com/2021/09/wellness-in-design-strategies-for-education-facilities/