Elementary school

K–12 Education Environments

Resources and information on educational facilities for professionals serving the pK-12 market.


  • Life Safety
    Rolling doors installed in cafeterias can keep schools safe during extreme weather.

    Specifying for Extreme Weather Preparedness and Safety

    The inclusion of storm shelters, safe rooms and best available refuge areas are steadily increasing, especially due to recent code changes in the heart of the United States. By specifying commercial rolling doors and shutters that meet strict wind load and flying projectile requirements, classroom pods, cafeterias and gymnasiums can maintain a welcoming appeal while able to transform into a safe space within seconds.

  • Reopening Schools
    Examples of various signage for schools. Illustrations By Chelsea Lott, Graphic Designer (PBK)

    Signs of The Times: Utilizing Graphics to Safely Transition Back to School

    Overall, signage provides a cost-effective and direct solution to the question, “How does the coronavirus change our schools?” Signage plays a role in helping people feel comfortable in their environments and understanding what is expected of them in certain spaces.

  • Furniture and Classroom Spaces
    Classroom with a variety of movable furniture and seats.

    Versatility Is a Critical Design Element for Modern Learning Spaces — And COVID Reinforces This Idea

    Even before COVID-19 forced K-12 leaders to rethink the design of school spaces, versatility was an important design element for classrooms and other instructional environments. Once life returns to normal, versatility will continue to be a critical design element.

  • Safety & Security
    Empty school hallway with yellow lockers.

    Gunfire Detection Systems Are More Important Than Ever in a World Impacted by COVID-19

    To aid in a rapid response, innovative technology companies have developed powerful gunfire detection systems to greatly reduce the time required before a suspect is apprehended.

  • Furniture
    Classroom with flexible furniture at West Rowan Elementary School.

    Five Tips for Creating a Vibrant, Modern Learning Space

    Here are five tips that all K-12 schools can use to break out of the one-size-fits-all classroom furniture model and create modern, engaging spaces for 21st Century learners.

  • Safely Reopening
    Classroom with agile furniture spaced at six feet apart.

    How to Support Active Learning During a Pandemic

    The design of the learning space will play a critical role in enabling active learning to occur in a responsible manner.

  • Technology
    Elementary student taking notes and watching his teacher on an open laptop screen.

    With E-Learning, School Districts Are Building the Foundation for Better Learning Outcomes

    When the pandemic subsides, districts that haven’t already will likely take a closer look at e-learning and the skills and solutions that make it possible.

  • Child working on homework.

    How to Overcome the "COVID Slide"

    The COVID slide could exacerbate existing achievement gaps if K-12 leaders don’t take action. Here are four strategies that can help solve this challenge.

  • Classroom Components
    Elementary students in a classroom working at their desks.

    Comfort Is Critical for Student Success. Here Are 3 Simple Factors to Consider.

    Why address comfort in the design of a learning space? When students are physically comfortable, they’re more at ease: They can relax, block out negative thoughts and focus more effectively on instruction.

  • Reopening Schools
    Nurse taking the temperature of a student. Both are wearing face masks.

    How School Nurses Are Critical in Back-to-School Planning Amid COVID-19

    School nurses bring a broad set of skills and experience in the monitoring of student and staff wellness, and they’re a critical resource as K-12 leaders plan to reopen schools amid a global pandemic.

  • Reopening Schools
    Woman taking the temperature of a child who is wearing a face mask and a backpack with a contactless thermometer.

    Here’s What Designers and Architects Anticipate Schools Will Look Like in the Fall and After COVID-19

    We asked designers and architects from across the country what they anticipate classrooms will look like in the fall if they were to reopen, how the coronavirus will impact school design in the long-term, and suggestions on design concepts schools can implement right away to help with social distancing in facilities. Their answers offer insight to available design options and possibilities that can help school leaders plan and make the best decisions for their students and staff.

  • COVID-19
    Empty classroom. Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

    UPDATED: Resources for Educational Facilities During COVID-19

    With COVID-19 changing the educational landscape each day, school and college decision makers need all the help they can get during this global crisis. Here are some resources on everything schools and colleges need to consider regarding educational facilities, construction, design and planning of new facilities, maintenance, managing employees and much more. (Updated 5/13)

  • Episode 4
    Schools In Focus podcast logo. Robin Randall (R) and Sylvia Kowalk (L).

    Schools In Focus: COVID-19 and the Impact on School Design

    As schools across the country figure out how to safely reopen schools, we wonder: how will COVID-19 impact school design? Senior editor Yvonne Marquez discusses with Sylvia Kowalk and Robin Randall from Legat Architects on what changes we might see as schools reopen.

  • Reopening Schools
    Classroom with agile furniture to accommodate proper social distancing.

    Rethinking School Spaces and Structures to Maintain Proper Distancing Amid COVID-19

    As you rethink the design of educational spaces and structures to keep your communities safe and healthy when schools reopen, here are some possible strategies and issues to consider.

  • Components & Materials
    Carrie Busey Elementary School library carpet tile. Credit: Scott Berman

    It’s All in the Details: Walls, Ceilings and Floors

    Walls, ceilings and floors, along with all interior and other building elements, must meet budgetary, acoustic, resilience, sustainability and maintenance requirements, with builders weighing such factors and others. Here are some ways that schools are making their interiors stand out.

  • Reopening Schools
    A woman architect looking at blueprints with her laptop open.

    What Schools and Colleges Have to Rethink for Fall 2020

    The fall of 2020 will be different. Nobody knows for sure what it will look like, but most would agree that it will be different, which raises many questions for those of us involved in the construction and design of academic facilities.

  • Reopening Schools
    Children in winter coats and hats wearing face masks and walking on sidewalk.

    Living (and Learning) with COVID-19: Best Practices for Reopening Schools

    While the attention so far has been focused mainly on ensuring that all students continue to receive a high-quality learning experience from home, leaders are now shifting their focus to how they can safely and responsibly reopen schools. Here are eight key suggestions for keeping students and staff safe when schools reopen.

  • Healthy Schools
    Children meditating in a classroom.

    How to Incorporate Mindfulness in the Classroom

    Pre-K and kindergarten students at Centner Academy in Miami begin their school day with a mindfulness practice. Here is how it's helping students cope with changes due to coronavirus and some tips to incorporate mindfulness in the classroom.

  • Cleaning and COVID-19
    A custodial worker using an electrostatic mister to clean an office.

    Combating COVID-19 with Electrostatic Misters

    This cleaning process provides more thorough coverage, essentially leaving no place for germs and pathogens, including those that cause COVID-19, to hide.

  • Episode 3
    Schools In Focus podcast logo and Dr. Greg Whiteley

    Schools In Focus: Expert Advice on COVID-19 Cleaning

    In this episode, we talk about the short-term and long-term goals of keeping school facilities clean amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • STEM
    The Berkner STEM Exploration Center features flexible and adaptable spaces.

    First Look: Berkner STEM Exploration Center

    When students return to school at Richardson Independent School District near Dallas, Texas, they will be able to utilize a brand-new state-of-the-art STEM facility that is open to all K-12 students in the district. Designed by Perkins and Will, the Berkner STEM Exploration Center was created for students of all ages.

  • Expert Viewpoint
    4 Reasons to Build Choice into Classroom Design — and How to Make It Work for Students

    4 Reasons to Build Choice into Classroom Design — and How to Make It Work for Students

    Teaching and learning are undergoing significant transformation, but, by and large, the design of classrooms has not transformed at the same rate. Here are six key elements of a modern and highly engaging learning space that both supports and encourages 21st century learning: choice, comfort, versatility, connection, stimulation and technology.

  • maintenance
    Handling Restroom Vandalism

    Tips for Handling Restroom Vandalism

    There may not be a good answer as to why restrooms are vandalized, but there are products and methods available to help with discouraging the act.

  • Interior Design
    Caption: Single leaf sliding doors support North Creek High School’s (NCHS) collaborative culture in Bothell, Washington. Credit: © Chris Eden / edenphotography.us

    Collaborative Design Through the Lens of Interior Sliding Doors

    In Bothell, Washington, Dykeman, Inc. worked with the Northshore School District to create a flexible, innovative learning center for 1,600 students centered on collaboration. They incorporated state-of-the-art interior single leaf sliding doors and hardware into eight "collaboration cubes" to pave the way for project-based and problem-based group learning, without compromising design.

  • Maintenance
    Cleaning for COVID-19

    COVID-19, Cleaning and Schools

    School and campus administrators throughout North America are very concerned about coronavirus and its impact on their facilities, students, teachers and staff. And there is good reason.

  • Healthy Schools
    A custodian cart in front of a white wall.

    Combating Coronavirus: Resources on Cleaning and Sanitizing Schools

    Spaces4Learning has several resources on best practices for cleaning and sanitizing schools and maintaining healthy schools during peak flu season, which can be applied to the coronavirus. Here you'll find our top articles and a webinar on the subject to help you combat the spread of coronavirus.

  • Episode 2
    Schools In Focus Podcast logo and Todd Ferking, principal at DLR Group

    Schools In Focus Podcast: 2020 Education Design Trends

    In this episode, Todd Ferking of DLR Group talks about education design that is geared toward the future.

  • K-12 Remote Learning
    child distant learning on laptop

    Moving to K-12 Digital Learning Fast: Where to Start

    As coronavirus changes life as we know it, these education experts offer advice on how to make the transition to online instruction.

  • Building Envelopes
    workers on lift cleaning windows

    From Cradle to Grave: The Cost of a Building

    When a system shows signs of failing, what is the most cost-effective course of action an owner should take? Does the owner replace the system or close the facility?

  • Editor's Note

    Resources for Remote Learning

  • outdoor learning water play space

    Learning Potential in the Outdoors

    For students of all ages, carefully planned outdoor learning areas and features can become an integral component of education.

  • custodian cleaning wall

    COVID-19 and The Custodial Training Component

    Issues impacting the ability and training of cleaning contractors vary in different settings and situations. However, all of them must be overcome, and urgently, if we are going to get on top of the COVID-19 situation.

  • COVID-19
    cleaning hand rails on staircase

    Pandemic Response: Protecting Custodial Workers

    Custodial workers must modify cleaning practices and behaviors to help reduce COVID-19 risks, not only for a building’s occupants, but especially for themselves.

  • Planning & Design
    Pathfinder Kindergarten Center: photo ©Chris Roberts, courtesy of DLR Group

    K-12 Design Trends to Watch in 2020

    Just as Winston Churchill once said, “we shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us,” designers must consider how education environments of the next decade will shape student behavior.

    Children using tools like a screwdriver to tinker with a robot on a table.

    Design Trends Influencing STEM Education

    Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are crucial parts of today's curriculum. When it comes to maximizing learning outcomes, many schools focus on the equipment and technology available. However, design also has a significant impact.

  • Safety & Security
    Despite the name, panic buttons are designed to take the panic out of a situation. As instincts kick in, a trained employee can have direct and easy access to alert or summon people for help quickly and discreetly with the push of a button.

    Taking the Panic Out of Panic Buttons

    Despite the name, panic buttons are designed to take the panic out of a situation. As instincts kick in, a trained employee can have direct and easy access to alert or summon people for help quickly and discreetly with the push of a button.

  • Makerspaces
    The new culinary lab at Downers Grove South. Each lab contains six large work stations that look like kitchen islands that faces a teacher demonstration station at the head of the class.

    High School Culinary Makerspaces Draw Inspiration From TV Food Shows

    Community High School District 99, located just outside of Chicago, is harnessing foodie culture to revamp culinary arts facilities at two of their high schools — Downers Grove North and Downers Grove South.

  • Episode 1
    Spaces4Learning recently launched Schools In Focus, a podcast spotlighting K-12 school design, planning and management.

    Introducing Schools In Focus Podcast

    Spaces4Learning recently launched a podcast focused on K-12 school design, planning and management.

  • Nearly half of all U.S. students go to schools in states that do not have specific programs for testing drinking water.

    How Schools Can Find Success with Lead Programs

    Currently, only 15 states require public school districts to test for lead in drinking water — and when they do test, many are well above the EPA’s action level of 15 parts per billion. Unfortunately, what this means is that nearly half of all U.S. students go to schools in states that do not have specific programs for testing drinking water.

  • K-12 High-Traffic Areas
    school flooring

    Flooring and the Impact It Has On K-12 Learning Environments

  • K-12 STEM & Makerspaces
    K-12 building design

    Innovative K–12 Design Inspired by Innovative Curriculum

    The first of its kind in the state of Arizona, the Dove Mountain CSTEM K–8 School is setting a precedent as a school of choice, defining the future of school design.

  • High Tech Trends

    The 15 Key Technology Hurdles, Trends and Enablers for 2020

  • Maintenance

    Healthy Cleaning

    Can more effective cleaning reduce student absenteeism? The evidence seems to say that it can.

  • Technology
    Here are a few areas to focus on to ensure a smooth transition to a beautiful, up-to-date, and informative website that serves your needs, connects your community, and shows your school in the best possible light.

    6 Tips to Redesign Your School's Website

    Overhauling your school’s site can feel like a daunting undertaking, but it can be a painless process with no downtime. Here are a few areas to focus on to ensure a smooth transition to a beautiful, up-to-date, and informative website that serves your needs, connects your community, and shows your school in the best possible light.

  • Facility Planning
    As the end of the calendar year (and the decade) draws near, the fall attendance numbers are in and many district leaders around the country are undertaking facilities and capacity reviews.

    3 Key Practices to Preparing and Sharing a Facilities Review

    Using a geographic information system helps school and district leaders connect disparate data sources and present their conclusions to their boards and communities.

  • Technology

    Spotlight On: Online Monitoring and Student Safety

    In this interview, Richard Fuller, Executive Chairman of Impero Software, which provides online monitoring and classroom management software to schools, provides his take on using technology to support student safety.

  • Cyber Security

    Schools Must Call for Resiliency in the Face of Increasing Cyber Threats

    For policymakers, educational institutions and their IT leaders, and even concerned parents, collaborative cybersecurity efforts should rally around the concept of resilience, or the ability to bounce back.

    At the heart of the school is the two-story media center, designed to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor space.

    Reach for the Stars: Designing a STEM Elementary

    De Soto ISD’s Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy aims to spark curiosity at an early age through STEM education.

  • School Safety
    Facial recognition technology is more frequently being utilized in K-12 schools. But how exactly does facial recognition work?

    Q+A with a Facial Recognition Expert

    We spoke to Mike Vance, Senior Director of Product Management at RealNetworks, the company behind SAFR K-12 to get a clearer picture of how their product can boost school safety.

  • Interiors
    adaptable educational space

    Preparing Students for an Unpredictable Future

    Creating an adaptable space is only one component of the agile classroom. What we teach and how we teach are just as important.