What Role Do FMs Have in Teaching Students about Healthy Practices?
Partnerships with teachers and administrators will be crucial to helping students understand the importance of social distancing, proper use of PPE, and handwashing.
Emphasizing handwashing, using personal protective equipment like face coverings in the right way, and social distancing will still be crucial elements of a health and safety plan as students return to school. As with cleaning, facility managers, teachers, and administrators will all need to band together to show students why these are important.
As well, architecture as pedagogy — a fancy way of explaining how buildings themselves can be part of school curriculum — is a trend that will continue to gain momentum during the pandemic, say these experts. And it’s another opportunity to strengthen the working relationship between teachers, administrators, and facility managers. Using elements of the building to teach may also be a way to keep students healthy.
“School gardens and outdoor learning environments are great opportunities for keeping healthy, and also really conducive to learning,” says Heming. That’s just one of many examples: Showing how infection control strategies — simple cleaning and handwashing — defeat and destroy the virus also brings home strategies that students can literally bring home. “We are in a teachable moment now,” says Buchanan. “Hopefully we’ll be smart enough to think beyond how we clean and disinfect to how we teach about health, foods, and more.”
Gutter agrees: “There is no choice,” she says. “What we do to protect students, teachers, and staff is a combination of deploying buildings as first lines of defense, as well as everyone in the building as caretaker of everyone’s health.”
One thing that may be a boon for this kind of teaching, and these kinds of partnerships, is the availability of funds. Because everyone recognizes that the health of students during a pandemic is absolutely vital, facility managers may find themselves with financial resources they hadn’t had in the past. And this can fast make them the most popular person in the district — yet another opportunity to build partnerships.
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— WELL Health-Safety Rating: A new rating system specifically tailored for existing buildings, including schools, WELL Health-Safety Rating gives facility managers a suite of strategies in three areas — operational policies, maintenance protocols, and emergency plans.
— Arc Re-Entry: A new tool from USGBC can help users with best practices for reopening facilities, including schools. The tools can be used to document and benchmark infection-control policies and procedures, collect and analyze related occupant experiences, and measure and track indoor air quality around factors such as carbon dioxide, relative humidity, and particulate matter.