At Spaceoasis® we have talked about ‘form follows function’ in terms of learning space design for many years and it’s just as relevant now. One of the functions of the learning space in a post-Covid 19 school is to help reduce the possibility of virus transmission by enabling physical distancing. We can’t instantly refurbish classrooms to create the ideal environment but using separate zones for different activities and incorporating outside space to increase the available footprint make it possible to have a full class of 30 rotating through the zones according to the activity.
In terms of adapting physical spaces you could…
There are a multitude of benefits to outdoor learning and many schools already embrace them. Fresh air and natural light are stimulating and the risk of virus transmission is greatly reduced when outside. Being in nature is calming and reduces stress levels. Stress is the enemy of attention and learning and it suppresses the body’s immune response so creating a calm atmosphere helps on a number of levels.
That said, being outside might be a pleasure in spring and summer (although you may need to invest in sails or gazebos to provide shade) but if this situation continues then schools may need to look at hiring marquees or tents to give some protection from the elements as we head into autumn and winter.
Use alternative spaces within the school:
Sports halls, libraries, IT suites can all be repurposed to accommodate learners, as one of the zones they rotate through, but only if we can move away from the direct instruction model as there won’t be enough teachers to supervise every space continually.
Use community spaces:
Community centres, church and village halls, sports and social clubs that are closed for the duration could all be put to use as learning spaces if the school estate simply can’t accommodate everyone.
Unprecedented times call for fresh thinking and we hope some of the ideas here might be of use as you work towards reopening your schools.