How are Universities Arranging Classrooms for Social Distancing?
2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. As we look ahead to 2021, we are hopeful science will prevail in providing a successful Covid vaccine(s), so colleges and universities can get back to the business of educating America’s brightest.
Eventually all colleges and universities will be able to make a full return to in-person learning. However, in person learning is not likely to look the same as it did prior to the Covid-19 pandemic for quite sometime. There will be an initial transition period. In this period of transition, there will be a need to remain socially distant in university classrooms. There will also be a need to sanitize all furniture and shared spaces regularly to prevent transmission of Covid-19. What should desk arrangements look like when we take social distancing into account?
Socially Distant University Classroom Arrangements
You may be asking yourself: What are the best desk arrangements for social distancing? What about the best social distancing classroom set up with tables? How should you arrange your lecture classroom with stadium seating? We are here to help.
There are a variety of classroom set ups that work well in the age of Covid-19. First of all, you will want to provide as much space between students as your classroom allows. This is perhaps easiest in a lecture style classroom with stadium seating. In this classroom, you will want to keep the students equally distanced around the room to provide plenty of space between each student. Current CDC Guidelines for Colleges and Universities can be accessed here.
How to Create Seating Charts for Classroom Social Distancing
The best seating arrangement for social distancing is one where students (and faculty) can safely enter the classroom in a socially distant way and stay socially distant the entirety of class. Here are a few options for classroom arrangements:
A traditional style of classroom set up can still work in a socially distant classroom. In this arrangement, students are sat at least 6 feet apart facing the professor. The professor is behind a wall of plexiglass and teaches facing towards the students. The students are encouraged to always wear a mask and stay facing forward. The professor will likely need to use a microphone in this set up so they can be easily understood.
You may want to consider a “teaching in the round” classroom style for the upcoming semester. Arrange tables or desks around the perimeter of the room, at least 6 feet apart. Students should face forward the entire class. This classroom style is preferable if you have in-class discussions.
You may also want to consider meeting outside as often as possible throughout the semester. Siting outside of a traditional classroom has long been a treat for college students, and this time is no different. Teaching outside makes it easy for students to remain 6 feet or more apart. It is easier for students to take mask breaks if they are already outside. Many universities or colleges have outdoor learning spaces. You can utilize these whenever the weather allows.
Additional Considerations for Teaching During Covid-19
There should be no sharing of classroom equipment without sanitizing before and after use. White boards should not be shared by students until the pandemic is under control. You may consider assigning less group work, unless it can be completed in an online setting. Lab classes may need to be less hands on or experiential for the time being.
How to Disinfect a Classroom
You’ll be happy to know, we wrote a Guide on How to Disinfect Wood Furniture. If you classroom has wood furniture, you can easily sanitize it with these easy steps. You will want to sanitize and wipe down all plastic surfaces using one of these cleaners between students. You may be interested in downloading this guide to help you safely return to in-person learning.