NEW DELHI, Feb. 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Any crisis presents the opportunity to help one learn, cultivate compassion and increase resilience while building a safer and more caring community. Every parent has the right to information on COVID-19, to diminish students’ fears and anxieties around the virus, as they all gear up to head back to school soon. Several considerations must be taken into account to maintain safe school operations, and if done correctly, it can promote emotional and physical well-being. Educational institutes will, and must take corrective measures at all levels. Envisage, an architecture and interior design firm in Gurugram, is consciously making an effort in developing design standards that can help institutions maintain ideal social distancing norms yet promote collaborative and flexible learning. They have designed and implemented various school projects and one of their recent projects, Mann School, was ranked number 1 in Delhi for its design and architecture.
“As a parent with school-going children myself, and an architect by profession, the apprehension of sending children back to what was once a safe-haven is undoubtedly a question in mind for many of us,” says Meena Murthy Kakkar, Design Head and Partner at Envisage. To prevent the spread of the virus while getting back close to the true normal, one can make changes in Infrastructure and administration while balancing the new mindset that revolves in the presence of the pandemic.“
Considering that WHO prescribes physical distance of at least 1 meter between students in school, the removal of standard twin benches at school would be of utmost priority. The new classroom design should allow for increased circulation of fresh air indoors, and classes must be held outdoors as much as possible to reduce contamination. Sanitation stations should be installed in every classroom and vinyl floor markings can be used to ensure unidirectional movement in all passages and corridors. Essentially, the class strength needs to be halved in the physical space by either increasing the number of rooms or by going in for a combination of real-time classes and online classes.
As for the admin, working in shifts or staggering school timings will be beneficial. This can be enabled by allowing for batches at different hours. Providing parents with an option to opt for classroom teaching or online can help regulate the number of students in a classroom. Installing a camera in every classroom will allow students to study from home on a virtual platform as well. It will considerably reduce the physical footfall in the school. Moreover, art as an activity can be continued with social distancing in mind as it allows to stimulate the creativity of the children. The necessity of teaching and learning with asynchronous platforms (Canvas, Blackboard, D2L) and synchronous (Zoom) platforms also yield significant benefits, when both methods can be adopted.
It is necessary to show empathy towards the teachers; Working full time, managing multiple roles, grappling with technology and yet smiling and greeting the children to ensure a happy learning environment. As schools reopen under appropriate health and safety protocols, school leaders will confront a new set of challenges including syllabus timelines and teaching methodologies, remedial academic support, new sanitation guidelines and possibly closing schools again in response to public health needs. School administrators will need to rework syllabus timelines, teaching methodologies, and remedial academic support. While the hurdles seem insurmountable, the result will lead to learning for students, professional work environments for parents, and an eventual balance in the society.
Commencing formal operations in 2007, Envisage was formed by two partners – Meena Murthy Kakkar and Vishal Kakkar, graduates of the esteemed School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi. As an interior and architecture firm that specializes in Design and Build projects, the firm offers turnkey solutions from conceptual design to execution and the studio has designed and executed over 100 projects. Both Vishal and Meena are passionate about bridging the gap between architectural pedagogy and practice and are associated with the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, as faculty members.