There is no disputing COVID fundamentally changed classrooms. Yet, school design was already experiencing a paradigm shift before the pandemic. Regardless of how we design classrooms, the importance of creating a low-stress environment for children during back-to-school cannot be understated.
Clear (But Temporary) Advantages
The pandemic made everyone in every industry reimagine how the perfect space would look, feel, and function. For an array of classrooms, teachers and caregivers needed new options to account for social distancing and to keep each child as safe as possible.
Imagine you are a child in a room where the teacher is difficult to see. Not only would it be uncomfortable, but it would be almost impossible for learning to progress any faster than a snail’s pace. Kids need to see their teacher almost constantly to absorb directions and have questions answered as a group. If a teacher had to walk around and give directions to each child individually, classroom efficacy could potentially suffer.
Individual Desk Separation
Using clear panels to separate individual student desks was not a “normal” use of panels until the pandemic caused educators to discover new ways to safely seat kids closer than 6 feet from each other. Clear PlayPanels® allowed classrooms to retain visual connectedness between both students and teachers. The social side of school is incredibly important for learning to share, self-regulation, collaboration, developing friendships, and learning to show kindness to others. These dividers kept many classrooms functioning without hindering sightlines throughout the pandemic until schools were closed.
Ever since moving kids from flex-space to flex-space was found to be an excellent engagement tactic, teachers and caregivers have been using room partitions to reimagine classrooms. Partitions are extremely adaptable, which means they can help create flex spaces of various sizes and shapes. Each space can be customized to focus on a specific activity. Rotating materials, as well as the configuration of spaces, helps stimulate the interest of children.
The distinct advantage of Clear PlayPanel room dividers is their ability to let one teacher keep tabs on a lot of students in multiple flex spaces.
Quick & Easy to Fold & Store
PlayPanels® attach to each other with Double Claw Clips. These flexible hinges attach panels to each other either horizontally or vertically to give teachers a lot of options. They also make it quick and painless to fold and store panels in a corner or a closet when trying to gain more open space for a large group activity. Compared to fixed partition systems, PlayPanels® are easy to move and easy to store.
A Wise Investment
Portable room dividers are much less expensive when compared to other permanent fixed partition systems. The school will not have to pay for design, building and installation costs. Foldable partitions can quickly and easily be moved from one classroom to another for a variety of activities. Based on the natural ebb and flow of individual classroom needs from one year to the next, the ability to use PlayPanels® for many, many years adds a lot of value.
Schools Mimic Thriving Business Environments
When we launched our Clear PlayPanel room dividers, we tried to immediately account for all the ways in which these clear partitions could help classrooms achieve the results they were craving. Not surprisingly, clear room dividers were just as effective as other room dividers when it came to creating smaller flex spaces for small group activities. It turns out privacy is not a key factor for educators. In fact, visual interconnectedness is the newest trend and quickly becoming a school standard.
A paradigm shift has occurred where schools are embracing similar standards seen in cutting-edge workplace environments. For example, Google and Apple’s campuses transitioned away from walls and doorways a long time ago. These thriving businesses are characterized by open layouts with uninterrupted lines of sight and a lot of glass. Most schools are planning to implement these new design principles to help students learn, stimulate creativity, and generally create a thriving environment for every student.
The Future of Multi-Use Spaces
Schools are rapidly changing the learning environments they provide for kids. Multifunctional spaces are the newest trend. A lunchroom one period might become a P.E. space the next period. In the case of the Ecole Kenwood French Immersion School, architects transformed the stairwell into a multipurpose space for lectures, presentations, and socialization. Architects and designers cannot always borrow ideas from tech giants because schools have slightly different needs and budgets. Clear PlayPanels® can provide a temporary solution while schools decide on a more permanent remodel.
PlayPanels® do not eliminate the need to wear masks or other layers of protection. COVID best practices may vary from location to location. Please consult local government agencies for guidelines.