Education Planner Joe Kosiorek, AIA, Ed.D, K12 Discusses Reopening for COVID Safety and Equitable Education

As the New York State Education Department releases its Framework of Guidance for reopening schools, we continue to support districts through designing flexible classroom solutions that will keep students and staff safer. But these short-term solutions can also create long-term equitable education opportunities.

As school districts are trying to figure out what back-to-school could look like in the fall, and how to bring students and staff back safely to avoid the spread of COVID-19, we are working with districts to talk about different ways they can utilize space, so students can learn while maintaining social distancing.

“How do you utilize gymnasium space, auditorium and cafeteria space? These spaces have been underutilized traditionally across the state and across the country,” said Kosiorek.
Options include barriers for students, floor markers for distance, and touch-less surfaces. However, the plans depend on flexibility. Even before the pandemic hit, our firm was working with Districts that realized that they needed to make big changes on spatial and educational optimization. These flexible learning environments provide more educational equity for students that might not thrive in the traditional learning environment.

“For 150 years the traditional educational environment has really been based on an industrial model,” Kosiorek says. As classrooms become more technological, they also need to be more flexible. So while these changes were coming, the pandemic is serving as a “triggering mechanism” for schools to act faster on these changes.

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