COVID-19 Education Featured

AIA Releases Program for Reducing Risk of COVID-19 in Schools

Washington –  In an effort to support the health, safety, and wellbeing of students, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has released 3D design models and strategies that can assist education officials with reopening schools during the pandemic.

For the 2020-21 school year, districts are facing the difficult task of determining if K-12 schools will reopen this fall. As part of the AIA’s initiative, “Reopening America: Strategies for Safer Buildings,” the AIA’s team – comprised of architects, public health experts, engineers, and facility managers – assessed hazards in K-12 schools and developed strategies to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

In addition to the 3D design models – produced by VMDO Architects – detailing strategies for classrooms and corridors, the team is releasing a report that provides additional considerations for entrances, gymnasiums, assembly spaces, cafeterias, and other spaces. Other strategies are also available for restrooms and staff spaces such as offices.

The report also elaborates on the many factors that need to be taken into consideration when reopening schools and provides basic building blocks that can be adjusted on a case-by-case basis when working with design teams to ensure the needs of individual education facilities are met when adapting buildings for COVID-19.

Findings in the report are meant to work in tandem with tools that can assist education officials with preparing schools for reopening, including a seven-step Risk Management Plan for Buildings for assessing hazards and applying strategies that reduce risk and the AIA’s Re-occupancy Assessment Tool, which provides a framework of strategies for making buildings safer.

Resources were developed from a wide range of expertise using a virtual charrette workshop – a method used to study specific issues in a limited time frame using an intense brainstorming session.

As part of the sessions, a group of public, environmental, and occupational health experts and physicians provided an independently developed 90-minute on SARS-CoV-2 infectious disease transmission, epidemiological models, and insights into the most current research of the virus as of early June.

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