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Amid a resurgent coronavirus pandemic, how are facility managers in school districts dealing with shifting occupancy levels, increasing scrutiny of building operations, and evolving demands of students, staff and faculty? Managers developing strategies and tactics are aiming at a moving target.
The country's largest school systems, which had largely eschewed in-person instruction, are venturing partially back into the classroom, according to USA Today. The majority of the 15 largest districts in the nation now have at least some students in school buildings. Large schools had faced bigger hurdles than smaller ones as they waited out case spikes in major cities and concerns grew about possible outbreaks in school buildings. Now, as several major districts have decided to try to meet in person, rising COVID-19 cases again threaten their efforts.
Among the strategies some districts are exploring to protect students and teachers is the use of outdoor spaces as classrooms. Seeking ways to teach safely during the pandemic, schools across the United States have embraced the idea of classes in the open air, reports The New York Times.
The efforts to throw tents over playground equipment and arrange desks in parks and parking lots have brought new life to an outdoor education movement. While some educators balked at the costs and logistical hurdles, others embraced the idea, with teachers learning carpentry to build their own outdoor classrooms, and parents raising money and hitting up local businesses for lumber.
Dan Hounsell is editor of Facility Maintenance Decisions.