At the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic is the topic of reopening schools, whether that be at the elementary, high school, or university level. The global crisis has shed light on the quality of learning environments, and further emphasizes the growing body of research that establishes the role those environments play in both occupant health and student achievement.
The commercial buildings market is very complex, with wildly divergent ownership, management control, and building characteristics. Buildings range from strip malls to office towers to convention centers to big box retail stores. Ownership could be local government, merchant builders (who build and then sell), local family businesses, international corporations, and fast food franchises. Each ownership category makes decisions very differently from the others. Some commercial buildings are incredibly complex, some buildings are cookie cutter simple and repetitive.
This is the amount of time, on average, that a student spends in school by the time he or she graduates from high school (Harvard report). Other than their homes, today’s students spend more time at school than anywhere else. We know this for a fact - yet we still overlook the importance of the physical school environment.
I come from a long familial line of school teachers – my mom, one aunt, both sisters, and my brother (for a short time) all taught children of varying ages. Even though I chose not to pursue a teaching career (public relations is honorable too, right?), I value education and all of the components that come with it.
Before last week, I (like most) had never stepped foot in a high performance school. It wasn’t futuristic in terms of its aesthetics, no chrome-plated walls or robots roving through the corridors. However, it was futuristic in the sense that it carefully considered the health of the students, their learning atmosphere, and our environment as a whole.
What lies ahead for Rhode Island schoolhouses? It’s hard to say with any certainty, but if stakeholder contributions from a recent discussion in Newport, R.I. are any indicator, the future looks bright.
After several years of a school construction moratorium, Rhode Island schools are finally seeing the potential for new construction and renovation opportunities this summer.