Reopening Schools: Using Visual Communication to Promote Safety
As states are figuring out what the upcoming school year may look like, it’s clear that it will be months before schools can fully reopen without any restrictions. From temperature screenings to staggered recess times, schools will have a lot to consider whenever they are able to open their doors again.
Many districts are looking at several, flexible options for fall that involve some combination of in-person studies and learning at home. Although every approach will be different, it seems most schools will kick off the 2020-2021 academic year with a hybrid of remote learning and part-time instruction in the classroom.
Students haven’t been in a classroom likely since March, and may feel a little overwhelmed coming back. Whatever new rules and policies your school has put in place, you can make the return for students much easier with the help of safety signs and floor markings.
Promoting Healthy Habits
Students and staff are likely going to be expected to follow a number of new practices while in school—each of which can be promoted with the right safety sign.
- Face Coverings: Urge anyone entering the school to wear a face mask or cloth face covering. If face coverings are required in your school, make sure you clearly communicate who must wear them and when.
- Frequent Hand Washing: Remind everyone to wash their hands often! Especially after coughing or sneezing, eating, using the restroom, and before putting on a face covering. Use signs in restrooms and near sinks encouraging students and staff to thoroughly wash their hands for a full 20 seconds.
- Good Respiratory Etiquette: Post signs reminding people to cover their coughs and sneezes. These kinds of signs can be especially important in elementary schools where children are still learning to build these habits.
Remember to post these signs where they will be seen! Post signs at all entrances and exits, in communal areas like the gymnasium and the library, and in restrooms. Make sure signs are posted at eye level, and the messaging is age-appropriate for the grade levels in the school.
Communicating in the Classroom
Setting up the classroom for the upcoming school year is going to be very different from previous years. While classrooms are typically designed to foster collaboration, the CDC recommends configuring desks six feet from one another on all sides and arranging instructional spaces to follow social distancing rules from public health authorities.
Use floor markings to highlight the space around desks and make sure students understand what a healthy distance looks like in the classroom. If your classroom has shared tables for instance, communicate clearly to students what seats are off-limits with some tape or a label. Because students will be spending the majority of their school time in a classroom, the way you use signs and labels can make a big impact on their healthy habits while they’re at home!
Managing Hallway Traffic
School hallways are known to be filled with students rushing between classes and congregating around lockers. To minimize congestion in hallways, designate one-way direction paths for all hallways and exterior pathways whenever possible. Make sure everyone is aware of any changes with clear markings:
- Set up one-way A-frame signs at either end of the hallway.
- Use ‘do not enter’ floor markings on one side of the designated one-way hallways.
- Use floor marking arrows to direct the flow of traffic.
- Place distance markings on the floor and walls to indicate six feet.
Social Distancing on School Busses
The school bus can be one of the most challenging obstacles districts will face when it’s time to return to school. Based on the National Council on School Facilities and Cooperative Strategies, a normal bus with a capacity of 56 can allow 28 students if face coverings are used, and only 7 with no masks. With masks, 1 student is allowed per seat, alternating left and right positions; without masks, 1 student can be seated in every other row, alternating sides. Use tape to mark where students can sit on the bus and post signs to encourage social distancing on buses.
What classrooms and schools will look like in the fall is completely uncertain. Guidance from state and local health officials are continuously being issued, and will likely continue to evolve as further research, data, and resources become available. Whatever safety sign or floor marking supplies your school needs, we’re here to help.
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