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Envisage Projects

Covid-19 changed the world and the way we function, and more particularly, the built environment suffered too. For example, while schools earlier were designed to encourage congregation and interaction between students, today, the flow within a school has changed. These very factors are now required to be ‘in check’. With the world regaining normalcy and schools opening up today, there is an urgent need for an adaptive approach to the functioning of institutions around the world. 

Crises present opportunities to learn, cultivate compassion and increase resilience while building a safer and more caring community. Post COVID-19, there has been a sense of fear and anxiety for parents as they all geared up to send the children back to school soon. Therefore, considerations must be taken into account to maintain safe and smart school operations and promote the emotional and physical well-being of both the staff and students. As designers, educationists and stakeholders who are shaping spaces in school education, it is critical to make changes in infrastructure and administration while balancing the new mindset that revolves around the pandemic.  

To curb the spread of the virus in schools, renewed adaptive measures can be adopted, especially at the classroom level. Considering that the World Health Organization (WHO) prescribes a physical distance of at least 1 meter between students in school, removing standard twin benches in classrooms can be a good option. In addition, the new classroom design should allow for increased circulation of fresh air indoors, along with sanitation stations installed in each classroom. Ideally, the class strength should be reduced to half in the physical space by either increasing the number of rooms or going in for a combination of real-time and online classes- the more popular hybrid mode of teaching. The necessity of teaching and digital learning with asynchronous platforms (Canvas, Blackboard, D2L) and synchronous (Zoom) platforms can also yield significant benefits when both methods can be adopted. 

As schools reopen under appropriate health and safety protocols, school leaders will confront new challenges, including syllabus timelines and teaching methodologies, remedial academic support, new sanitation guidelines, and possibly recurrent closure of schools in response to public health needs. The change is inevitable and challenging, although, with flexible and adaptive measures, the safety and learning of students will be balanced. Design is now not just correlated to form and function as it cannot be independent of including emotional well-being, physical safety and health of the occupants. Hence, such flexible measures need to be incorporated for upcoming and existing institutions to ensure the student’s welfare.