The COVID-19 pandemic rages on. Deadly virus variants are surging around the world. Masks are back. Schools are reopening.
If you feel as though that last sentence is a little alarming, you’re not alone. Many teachers, administrators, parents and even students are confused and apprehensive about reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic. But schools all over the United States and elsewhere are, in fact, returning to regular business, and many people say that’s a necessity — pandemic or not.
Unfortunately, that puts the responsibility to reopen schools safely squarely in the hands of the schools themselves. With little time to accommodate, this leaves administrators scrambling to find a solution. Well, we would like to offer up one extremely effective, modular solution: portable classrooms.
In this post, we will explore school portables, the problems they solve and everything you need to know to implement them in your school district. Read on to learn more, or reach out to the experienced team at VESTA Modular.
The pandemic has put strain on virtually every aspect of daily life, but the education system is probably second only to the healthcare system in terms of industries that have been the most severely affected.
At the peak of the pandemic, closed schools in Europe and Central Asia alone affected roughly 185 million students. That’s not to mention the hundreds of thousands of educators, as well as the students in other parts of the world, who were also affected. Lessons were delayed, hours cut and education budgets busted.
With those severe impacts in clear focus, it’s easy to understand the motivation behind wanting to reopen schools even as the pandemic continues. But this prospect brings with it some serious challenges and health risks. Chief among those challenges are avoiding further COVID-19 spread among teachers and students and solving the overcrowding problem brought on by social distancing.
This is perhaps the most obvious challenge of reopening schools in the face of the coronavirus. But its severity can’t be overstated. For example, a school in Israel experienced a major COVID-19 outbreak less than two weeks after reopening. Two students who were sick with COVID-19 attended the school. The result? At least 153 additional infections among students and 25 among staff members — from two students.
This story has been repeated over and over in educational settings since the beginning of the pandemic. The goal for reopening schools, of course, is to keep them open. But to do that, schools have to identify policies and preventive measures that can actually stop COVID-19 from spreading within the school.
One way experts have identified to slow the spread of the virus is social distancing. People have to stay about six feet apart at all times, and that significantly reduces COVID-19’s ability to spread from person to person. The advent of social distancing was a great step forward in the fight against the pandemic, but it caused another problem in schools: overcrowding.
In classrooms, desks are usually no more than a couple of feet apart. Let’s do some quick spatial math: in a classroom that can fit 30 student desks that are all two feet apart, how many desks can you fit if you have to place all of the desks six feet apart?
The non-mathematical but absolutely true answer: not enough.
Spreading students out makes more classroom space an absolute necessity. But educators don’t need to be told how strained school district budgets are. Nor do they need to be reminded how long it can take schools to finish new construction. In other words, schools need more classrooms to address overcrowding, but the money and time required to build more classrooms simply aren’t there.
Educators are creative, so it’s no surprise that they have come up with some innovative ways to combat the problems of local transmission of COVID-19 and school overcrowding. Here are some of the ideas they have tried:
The concept of rotating school schedules relies on the thought that some in-person learning is better than none. This has been tried a number of different ways, but it typically involves separating students and teachers into groups that should not have in-person contact outside of their own groups. Then, those groups attend classes in person only at certain times of the day, week or month. For the rest of the time, they are teaching and learning remotely.
Especially at the start of the pandemic, a huge number of schools shifted to remote learning — having classes via online video conferencing rather than in a classroom. This strategy swiftly solves the problem of local virus transmission within schools because no one is in the schools. But it is an imperfect solution for a few key reasons:
Some districts decided to try social distancing with modular classrooms. These portable school buildings could be delivered to the school grounds and immediately provide the additional classroom space necessary to tackle overcrowding and allow for safe in-person instruction.
Most of us have seen and probably worked in a portable classroom before. These classrooms are trailers, double-wides or complex structures that are prefabricated off campus and delivered to schools. They’re often installed in an effort to increase space quickly and temporarily.
Despite this temporary status, the many advantages offered by portable classrooms for sale often make them a permanent fixture on school grounds.
Portable school buildings have some clear benefits that have made them an ideal solution for reopening schools during the ongoing pandemic.
Portable classrooms cost much less than traditional classrooms to construct. Here’s why:
No one really knows how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last. At any point in the pandemic so far, constructing a permanent school building to accommodate social distancing was going to be a risk. It was possible that the social distancing requirements would be lifted before construction was even complete.
Portable classrooms can handle this kind of uncertainty because they are versatile. Many companies allow people to rent them for relatively short-term contracts, so they can be returned when they’re no longer necessary. But if the need for more classroom space happens to become permanent, school portables can stick around as long as they need to. They’re constructed with high-quality, durable materials that can last as long as many non-mobile structures.
Sitting around at home during the worst parts of the pandemic might have felt like it was going to last forever, but that’s the only thing about COVID-19 that has felt slow. School policies have changed with the wind — a 30-minute school board meeting could upend prevention strategies it took weeks to implement.
Portable classrooms can match the fast pace of the pandemic. Within a couple of weeks, manufacturers can put together portable classroom spaces off-site and have them delivered to their destinations. To add to that speed, many companies have portable classrooms that are already manufactured and available.
One of the amazing aspects of portable classrooms is the seemingly endless number of features that you will find available to enhance the comfort levels of your students and staff.
Some of the most common portable classroom features include:
The short answer is that portable classroom trailers are as many square feet as you need them to be. The more thorough answer is listed below. Portable classroom trailers come in a few standard size options.
In terms of square footage, trailers range from 700-square-foot, single-wide school portables, and can be combined, connected like Legos and installed to be as large as almost 40,000 sq. ft.
Modular building code legislates that individuals or occupants require 20 square feet. Put into simpler terms, a 700 sq. ft. classroom can accommodate 35 occupants. That might look like 34 students and one educator.
Check out our portable classroom buildings for sale to discover more size options.
Portable classrooms are typically for sale by portable and modular building companies. This gives you a huge advantage when shopping for a modular classroom unit because their inventory will be diverse, and their expertise for crafting customized modular buildings across various business sectors is greater than that of a common construction company.
Portable classroom exteriors can be fitted with siding and roofing materials that are high quality and offer customization that blends with your other campus buildings. The uniform exterior gives your school an aesthetically pleasing feel and presents it as a polished educational institution.
This includes the ability to modify entrances with handicap accessibility features such as ramps and railings, stairways and wide entries.
Inside, portable classrooms can be customized to the type of class being taught and ensure that your technology integrates seamlessly with classroom specs.
If you need a multipurpose classroom space, we can create a standard desk area, a casual learning, play or reading area and teacher workspace that optimizes the feel of smaller school portables.
But if you need a science lab classroom, the desk-type ventilation systems, sink and plumbing are all completely customizable.
Will your portable classroom building be used as a computer lab or smart classroom? That’s also not a problem. Customized portable classrooms can be prefabricated and wired to the exact data and electrical specifications a technology-filled room needs.
One of the most common questions pertaining to portable classrooms is the safety of a temporary unit. Prefabricated school buildings are built to code and inspected to give you peace of mind regarding the quality of the modular construction. Engineers and architects ensure that buildings materials and infrastructure are designed for your safety.
Here are some of the precautions schools have taken to provide safety for portable classrooms from outside threats:
Schools have reported that the average age of portables in the U.S. is about five to six years old. Education units that are well-maintained and made from high quality materials can see lifetimes as long as 30 to 50 years. Schools should take time to have their buildings regularly inspected and cleaned to provide the longest life of their buildings.
Portable classrooms for sale are often cited as affordable, temporary options for schools. They add classroom space on a budget that gives school administrators the ability to use limited government funds to ensure a high-quality education is being provided in their school system.
Specific costs of portable classrooms are associated with a number of variables, including:
It should be noted that costs are typically higher in the first year to accommodate for transportation and installation, making investing more worthwhile the longer a building is maintained. Schools that purchase their portable classrooms often see the best return on investment. Leasing is still a great option for schools that need temporary relief quickly and are certain that the relief they need is indeed only for a few years.
To get an exact price on a portable classroom located near you, contact our experts at VESTA Modular directly.
Most modular construction companies that sell portable classrooms will offer multiple purchase options:
We strongly recommend reaching out to your modular classroom provider for any questions about purchasing your next school portable that you might have.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was meant to help those who have suffered setbacks because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A big part of that effort has involved diverting more funding to the education sector. More than $31 billion is going to go to the U.S. education system as part of the CARES Act.
One of the acceptable uses of that funding is purchasing or constructing new classrooms, as long as the need to do so was a result of the pandemic.
Schools have to reopen at some point. When yours reopens, will you be ready? One of the best ways to get ready is to ensure students have enough classroom space with portable school buildings. That way, students and staff can socially distance, stay safe and learn.
Ready to start your modular classroom buying experience? Get a quote by clicking the “Request a Quote” link below.