Knocking elbows and desk partners aren’t just a nuisance: they are quickly becoming a liability. School administrators are responding to the increasingly urgent reality of overcrowded classrooms. The reality is, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, overcrowding in schools is a genuine point of concern. And yet, educators and mental health experts alike are encouraging some version of in-person learning for most students. This presents a conundrum and has school staff scrambling for solutions. The good news is, the problem and effects of overcrowded classrooms can be resolved with the right resources and a little creativity.
One of the best solutions for overcrowded classrooms is modular classrooms (also known as school portables). Check out the ultimate guide for modular classrooms to learn more about this building type.
Overcrowding in schools is an undeniable problem that didn’t, in fact, arise because of the pandemic. However, new state standards have made an existing problem immeasurably worse. Here are two examples of the problems being faced in various state school systems:
New York City has been very strict about COVID-19 rules and regulations. The state is steadily moving toward a full reopening, but with numerous caveats. As of February 8, 2021, about 62,000 middle school students will get to go back to in-person classes. High schools remain completely remote. Mayor Bill de Blasio has been in an (often bitter) battle with the teachers union for several months to decide on the right security measures for reopening. These measures have largely related to social distancing and providing students with the recommended six feet of distance between desks.
In the state of Georgia, which has been less strict than NYC with COVID-19 shutdowns, the education board is letting individual districts decide. COVID-19 and Georgia schools have included various waves of shutdowns, partial in-person learning and guidance programs. The Georgia school districts have provided emotional support resources, guides for how to serve students with disabilities in an online learning environment and a Home Classroom portal. Some Georgia schools are still shut down due to rising cases and the inability of local schools to implement social distancing.
There is more than conjecture to back up the danger of disease spreading in overcrowded classrooms. In October 2020, the World Health Organization published a COVID-19 update on what experts had learned about COVID-19 Transmission in Schools. Here’s what they found:
While administrators, educators and families all agree that overcrowded classrooms are a problem, there isn’t consensus about a solution. Administrators remind the public that school buildings have limited space. What was historically adequate to accommodate a certain number of students is now frowned upon or sometimes completely prohibited by state social distancing mandates.
While it may feel like they are being asked to provide an overcrowding solution without reasonable time or resources, they’re rising to the occasion. Here are three of the main solutions to school overcrowding that are currently being used by educators around the country.
Hybrid learning models are considered lower risk than full-time, in-person learning. These involve a mix of in-person learning and remote learning. In this case, remote/in-person learning hybrids will consist of small group class activities or events, no mixing of groups and minimal physical sharing. Of course, it should also include regular cleaning, face masks, hygiene and social distancing.
There have been some challenges to this model, especially with certain age groups.
One popular model, especially in densely populated metro areas, has been the use of “cohorts” and rotating school schedules. Essentially, small groups of same-age children are chosen to attend in-person classes together. There is no mixing between groups and they always have the same teacher. The thought is that this creates something like a “germ bubble,” in which exposure is limited to a specific number of people.
To pull this off, many schools have had to go to staggered school schedules. This may mean that, instead of attending school from 8:00am-3:00pm, elementary school children go to school for fewer hours either earlier in the morning or later in the day. Other ways administrators are building a schedule around student rotations are:
The first two options require an upheaval of schedules and aren’t always possible. Working parents, for example, may be unable to continue overseeing at-home virtual learning. The same issue exists with shifted schedules, as changes may or may not work with schedules of parents or other kids in the home. Lastly, some parents are simply eager for their children to return to some kind of “normal life” at school. They want the full, in-person experience. Of course, they also want their children to be safe.
That’s where this third school crowding solution comes into play. Portable classrooms (or modular classrooms) are a fraction of the cost of building and literally expand the footprint of a school to give each child more space. These are being purchased en masse by administrators who realize that it is really the only option within the budget and accelerated timeline. The good news is, portable classrooms aren’t trailers or in any way inferior to a concrete block classroom. In fact, in most cases, they are better.
Portable classrooms can be purchased, prefabricated (offsite), shipped, assembled (onsite) and in use within weeks. This means an accelerated timeline with minimal disruption to overcrowded classrooms who are waiting for solutions.
Portable classrooms don’t have to be a temporary option if you don’t want them to be. In fact, permanent modular classrooms can be completely customized and installed as a long-term part of a school campus. This not only mitigates the immediate risk of overcrowded classrooms but provides growth opportunities for years to come.
Modular classrooms are the least expensive option to create more space on an overcrowded campus. These cost pennies on the dollar compared to a massive-scale construction project and will be just as high-quality and comfortable.
Interested in learning more about portable or modular buildings for an overcrowded school? Contact VESTA for portable classroom info.
Ready to pursue modular classrooms as a solution to overcrowded classrooms but are still considering your payment options? We recommend reading Education Purchasing Cooperatives: Portable Classrooms Solve Space Issues In Schools.
Are schools more crowded than they used to be? School overcrowding is a trending idea, not necessarily because there are more students, but because social distancing is being required in schools.
Social distancing is what is being most widely recommended for elementary schools, middle schools and high schools, as studies indicate that students learn best with in-person instruction. Especially for younger students, the important foundational education they are receiving sets them up for a lifetime of success in learning. Healthcare and public health experts alike realize that, while educational goals are important, so is halting the spread of COVID-19. Here are the CDC guidelines for social distancing in schools:
An ideal solution for overcrowded classrooms will be one that can be quickly implemented, safely maintained and that will protect as many students as possible. Faculty and educators occupy an important role in our society and the education of children can never be compromised. VESTA is proud to provide ongoing support and one of the most important services for overcrowded schools and overcrowded classrooms. Our high-quality portable classrooms can be fully customized and offer a permanent solution for overcrowding.
Wonder what is possible or what they look like? Tap here for info on modular classrooms from VESTA Modular or click below to request a quote. Modular building construction and leasing is what we do, and classrooms are our specialty.