school pupils in classroom

Back to School: Preparing Your School Campus for the ‘New Norm’

21st July 2020

With September fast approaching and the government’s plans to get children fully back into classrooms for the start of a new school year, now is the time to start thinking about how to prepare your school campus for the ‘new norm’. 

Although it’s still unclear what the ‘new norm’ will look like come September, it’s likely there will be continued emphasis on heightened hygiene practices and social distancing measures in school facilities, even as life begins to return to some sense of normality. 

With this in mind, we’ll be running through some of the important steps you can take to get your school campus ready for the start of a new school year in September – making sure student and staff wellbeing is your top priority.

1. Introduce a robust deep-clean strategy

An important part of school safety going forward will be making sure all areas of the school campus are spotless. Given the scale of many educational facilities, this is a big undertaking, but introducing a structured daily cleaning process from the start should mean staff areas, classrooms, bathrooms, canteens, hallways and more are kept clean throughout the school day. 

Best practice for cleaning is essential when it comes to preventing diseases from spreading. This is especially important in areas with high-touch surfaces, meaning surfaces such as desks, doors and bathrooms should be subject to regular disinfecting throughout the day.

2. Use visual signs to prompt social distancing and hygiene

Visual reminders have become a standard feature in supermarkets and other public places, prompting people to keep their distance. In terms of schools, using signs and visual markers could be an effective way to keep students and staff alerted to appropriate social distancing rules and extra hygiene measures on campus.

From eye-catching ‘wash your hands’ signs in bathrooms and next to hand sanitiser units to hazard warning tape on floors directing one-way footfall in hallways and defining the 1-2 metre rule, these visual prompts will help maintain good hygiene and social distancing as schools reopen their doors full time. 

3. Stagger school start and finish times to manage traffic at peak times

As we enter into the ‘new norm’, the current strategy to group school pupils and staff together into small ‘bubbles’ is still going to be necessary. Although as more pupils return, this may mean expanding group numbers to accommodate entire years. 

This naturally poses some logistical challenges with more bodies on campus. However, staggering start and finish times for each group, as well as break times should go towards minimising social contact between different groups.

It can also provide a better method for managing traffic flow at peak drop-off and pick-up times. Which can be further improved by creating a designated dropping off and picking up area to limit the number of people entering school premises.

4. Reconfigure classroom setups

Cramped classrooms will be a thing of the past as schools will need to reconsider layouts to provide ample space between desks. This may require classroom storage to be moved to another location or reduced class sizes, but the key is to find practical ways to apply distance amongst groups where possible. 

However, it’s not just the layouts that will change. With students categorised into ‘bubbles’ and encouraged not to mix groups or share rooms, the role of the classroom will be far more important, as many students will have all of their learning in one room. This means these spaces not only need to be designed with social distancing in mind, but also need to be multifunctional – which in some instances may include doubling up as a lunch room. 

5. Consider your storage setup

Storage is an essential part of school campus, from store cupboards and classroom shelves to secure lockers for pupils and staff. However, these can also be areas that are neglected in terms of regular cleaning, allowing dust, clutter and bacteria to build up.

It goes without saying, these areas should be included on your daily cleaning rota, but you can make the task of disinfecting them easier by upgrading to storage shelving and school lockers that feature antibacterial finishes or models made from easy-clean materials, like our eXtreme Plastic Lockers that can be washed down without ruining the long-term integrity of the material. 

In terms of managing storage use, where possible, limit access to pupils’ lockers, ensuring students don’t gather in groups, as well as spacing units out and ensuring other storage areas are only accessed by authorised personnel.

6. Prepare an isolation area to prevent coronavirus spreading

While confirmed cases of Covid-19 seem to be decreasing in the UK, there is still the risk of it spreading as normal life resumes. This means, as part of your school safety preparation, you should also put measures in place to prevent spread if a student or staff member shows symptoms.

In these cases, individuals should be isolated to lower the risk of contact with others, so having an isolation area ready for this situation could be advisable. Of course, with younger kids or those with special educational needs this may require a member of staff to stay with them, in which case they should be given suitable PPE and ensure they regularly wash their hands. 

The prospect of young people returning to school is definitely a positive step in the Covid-19 recovery process. But, as we outlined above, school hygiene and safety need to be top priorities to ensure the safest and smoothest transition for everyone involved.

If you’re looking to get started right away with readying your campus for a big reopen in September, we’re here to help. Take a look at our range of secure lockers suitable for schools now to find practical, cost-effective solutions to help put hygiene first in your facilities. Or if you’d prefer to speak to one of our storage expert team, simply give us a call on 01908 525700 or send us an email at sales@actionstorage.com.