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How the Pandemic Is Reshaping Future School Designs


By Dan Hounsell Design & Construction
classroom ventilation

These are interesting times for the nation’s K-12 schools. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised the general public’s interest in these facilities higher than ever, and a likely influx of federal funding to address facility infrastructure issues has created a host of new opportunities.

The passage of the American Rescue Plan adds $122 billion in K-12 relief funds, and it might enable maintenance and engineering managers to focus on the shape and scope of construction projects, according to Construction Dive. Managers now have an opportunity to think years down the line about the way changes in school design could prepare their districts to weather the next crisis. Among the key facility considerations likely to be emphasized in future school designs are these:

Contactless features. Touchless systems will become a minimum standard for schools. Accessories such as touchless faucets and toilets and automatic door-openers are common in restaurants and retail stores but are often the first options cut from a school construction budget when funds get tight.

Bringing the outside in. Air circulation and HVAC systems have topped the safety priority lists of school leaders, educators and other stakeholders. Since the beginning of the pandemic, mechanical, electrical and plumbing design teams have recommended increased fresh air access, upgraded filtration, bipolar ionization and UVC treatments to provide cleaner air.

Dan Hounsell is Senior Editor, Facility Market 

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