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Schools / Public health

US architects’ body issues 3D design models for safe reopening of schools

By Andrew Sansom 19 Jun 2020 0

In an effort to support the health, safety and wellbeing of students, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has released 3D design models and strategies that can assist education officials with reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic.

For the 2020–21 school year, districts are facing the difficult task of determining if K-12 (kindergarten to 12th grade) schools will reopen this autumn. As part of the AIA’s initiative, ‘Reopening America: strategies for safer buildings’, a team comprising architects, public health experts, engineers and facility managers assessed hazards in K-12 schools and developed strategies to mitigate risk of COVID-19 transmission.

In addition to the 3D design models, produced by VMDO Architects, detailing strategies for classrooms and corridors, the team is releasing a report that provides additional considerations for entrances, gymnasiums, assembly spaces, cafeterias and other spaces. Other strategies are also available for restrooms and staff spaces, such as offices. 

The report also elaborates on the many factors that need to be taken into consideration when reopening schools, and it provides basic building blocks that can be adjusted on a case-by-case basis when working with design teams to ensure the needs of individual education facilities are met when adapting buildings for COVID-19.

Solutions highlighted in the report are meant to work in tandem with tools that can assist education officials in preparing schools for reopening. These include a seven-step ‘Risk Management Plan for Buildings’ for assessing hazards and applying strategies that reduce risk, as well as the AIA’s Re-occupancy Assessment Tool, which provides a framework of strategies for making buildings safer.

Resources were developed from a wide range of expertise using a virtual charette workshop – a method used to study specific issues in a limited time frame using an intense brainstorming session.

As part of the sessions, a group of public, environmental, and occupational health experts and physicians provided an independently developed 90-minute briefing on SARS-CoV-2 infectious disease transmission, epidemiological models, and insights into the most current research of the virus as of early June. 

For more detailed information on public health hazards and considerations in schools, the AIA is directing stakeholders to its COVID-19 emerging research and public health data.

Tailored strategies and considerations for senior living facilities are also being developed and will be released in the near future.