Shifting Learning Space Design to Combat COVID-19: 7 Design Tips

Shifting Learning Space Design to Combat COVID-19: 7 Design Tips

Author: Dr. Christina Counts

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, learning space design has had to adapt and grow to create healthy and functional learning spaces. One of the key components to safe, healthy learning space design is creating flexible learning spaces that can serve multiple purposes. Of course, that means that these adjustable spaces will be pushed to their limits with the impacts of COVID-19 as schools strive to keep students at a safe distance while still learning collaboratively in the classroom. With this in mind, here are seven learning space design tips to support COVID-19 social distancing requirements:

  1. Stacking & Nesting

Stacking and nesting student desks and tables make it possible to open up additional space to arrange furniture with a 6-foot social-distancing bubble in mind. These mobile desks and tables can quickly shift to create space and continuously modify the classroom design based on learning needs and health guidelines.

  1. High Performance Fabrics

Performance fabrics offer significant benefits when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting furniture in your learning spaces. Some performance fabrics allow for cleaning with a bleach-solution, while others contain antimicrobial additives that halt the growth of bacteria and fungi and help increase fabric durability. These features make it easy to combat COVID-19 with efficient and effective cleaning and disinfecting.

  1. Antimicrobial Surfaces

Antimicrobial surfaces which create an environment that is uninhabitable by microorganisms will soon become the standard for learning space tabletops. These surfaces prevent the growth and spread of germs and play a vital role in creating safe and healthy learning spaces.

  1. Mobile Space Dividers

Mobile whiteboards are a multi-functional learning space addition that provide visual brainstorming and workspaces while also acting as a space divider to keep students at a safe and healthy social distance. These space divider boards form flexible barriers between students and small groups and are easy to clean and disinfect.

  1. Mobile Furniture

The utilization of flexible and mobile furniture pieces can make it possible to transform learning spaces to fit a variety of purposes:

    • Collaborative common spaces and extended learning spaces can transform to act as additional instructional space.
    • Outdoor spaces can act as convertible learning spaces when weather permits.
    • Mobile teacher stations can support teachers to travel to classrooms, keeping large numbers of students from moving throughout the facility at the same time.

  1. Armless Chairs

Fewer touch points make for a healthier learning space by minimizing the contact students have with germs on furniture surfaces. Armless student chairs lower the number of touch points in a classroom and allow for easier and quicker cleaning and disinfecting.

  1. Individual Student Storage

The CDC recommends for Fall 2020 that each child’s belongings are kept separate from others and in individually labeled containers, cubbies, or areas. Mobile storage is a functional solution that provides organization and isolation of students’ personal items and school materials throughout the school day.

These seven design tips are just the beginning of the conversation as schools and learning space designers prepare for the reopening of schools in Fall 2020. School districts and designers will need to work together to find the best solutions for learning design and functionality. As we discover best practices for healthy learning environments, we can work to innovate a forward-thinking solution that creates healthy and functional learning spaces for all.

Dr. Christina Counts, VP of Strategy and Development for MiEN Environments, is a proven leader with a successful background in transforming learning spaces to modern engaging learning environments.  Dr. Counts has worked in education for over 17 years with experience as a classroom teacher, district instructional leader, school administrator, and digital and innovative learning designer. In her most recent position, Christina leads a team of professionals that support schools making the transition to a flexible, collaborative, & student-centered learning space.  She holds a doctorate in K-12 Educational Leadership, National Board certified, and Google & Apple certified. Dr. Counts envisions a learning space in which educators are empowered to transform education through design, technology and innovative instructional pedagogy to create learners ready for any future!