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Videos: Watch our three-part series on school planning and design for COVID-19

Nassau BOCES recently collaborated with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Long Island chapter, to present “School Planning and Design for COVID-19,” a forum for structural school reform. The three-part webinar series gave the educational community an opportunity to meet with design professionals to explore emerging trends in school design. Together, they explored potential short and long-term strategies to enhance school design in the era of COVID-19.

Below, you can watch the videos of the webinars, which took place from September-October 2020.

Part 1: New Frontier for School Planning: Designing for Resiliency/Safety/Well-being in the Wake of COVID-19

There is no debate that reopening schools is a critical step towards stabilizing our nation, economy, and state of social and emotional well-being. The concerns surround the when and how? While we cannot be sure when, we know that the architectural community can contribute to the how.

Part 2: Next Millennium Design: “Adapting to Emerging Variables”

This discussion will provide a lens through which to look at school facility design and its goal of engaging students in a safe and inspirational learning environment, with reference to the differences and commonalities of approach before 2020 to the present, then onward into the future from a NYS, Northeast Regional perspective.

Part 3: Transforming School Design for a Post-COVID World

Using the built learning environment as the template for change, this webinar will cover the full range of architectural, educational and operational challenges that must be faced and overcome when schools are fully back in session post-COVID. Primarily, their challenge will be to move from a teacher-centered to a student-centered model of education.

“Even before the pandemic began, school planning was at a crossroads,” said Anthony Fierro, Executive Director of the Nassau BOCES Department of Facilities Services. “In the wake of Covid-19, it’s become more important than ever for us to re-examine the physical environment that we’re providing for learning.”

According to Mr. Fierro, school renovations have been on the rise well in advance of COVID, in large part due to aging school buildings on Long Island. The goal of the series is to build safe and inspirational learning environments that promote student engagement in a place where students can thrive and grow; and establish inviting learning communities.

“We are proud to work in conjunction with Nassau BOCES in putting educators together with the most skilled architectural professionals from throughout the nation, to envision the future of education,” said Graciela Carrillo, President of the Long Island Chapter of the AIA. “In this way, we can plan for more resilient schools that can adapt to a variety of major safety issues.”

Architects and engineers met virtually with a wide cross-section of educational stakeholders including school board members, superintendents, business officials, facilities directors, teachers, parents and students. Together, they discussed the design and planning of new schools, as well as the renovation of existing school buildings, to create new student-centered models that will impact school design for future generations.

“We have an exciting opportunity here to create a new normal, and to engineer the best possible facilities given the current conditions,” stated Nassau BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Robert R. Dillon.

“What does normal look like. During the time of COVID, we need to consider continuity and capability – off site, with alternate people and resources,” said Jenine Kotob, School Safety Specialist & Architects at Hord Coplan Macht presenter of A New Frontier for School Planning: Designing for Resiliency, Safety, & Well-being in the Wake of COVID-19. “We need to advocate for balance and holistic design while simultaneously emphasizing school safety. New challenges will begin to arise as we plan for new classrooms in a pandemic.”

“Design of the Learning Environment should be influenced by the needs of differing student learning styles to complement the work of students and teachers alike,” said Kevin Walsh, Accredited Learning Environment Planner with BBS Architects, during his presentation of Next Millennium Design: ‘Adapting to Emerging Variables.

“Architecture is there to support the education and the school building is the most visible way we think about educating our students,” said Prakash Nair, Founding President and CEO of Education Design International and the speaker on Transforming School Design for a Post-COVID World: Learning Spaces for Creativity and Collaboration. “The learning community should be optimized for curriculum organized around themes, community and self-directed learning. We need to move away from the typical layout of a school that is characterized as cells and bells.”