Elementary school

K–12 Education Environments

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


  • Cleaning & Maintenance
    Someone with blue rubber gloves wiping down a desk.

    Does Your School Maintenance Plan Pass the Test?

    Although you set your initial school maintenance plan during the late summer months, now is a good time to evaluate its effectiveness, find opportunities to refine your processes, and make sure you and your teams are doing all you can to safeguard students and staff if and when they enter your doors in person.

  • best school projectors

    Best Projectors for Schools

  • Interiors
    school hallway

    It's All In The Details: Walls, Ceilings and Floors

  • Reader Survey
    reader survey

    The Ongoing Impact of COVID-19 Policy in Education

    COVID-19 has changed and will continue to change every aspect of education in K–12 and higher education for the foreseeable future. We polled our readership to learn of the experiences taking place across the nation and get a glimpse of what's being planned going into the spring 2021 semester and beyond.

  • Learning Spaces
    wiggle room

    You Might Have A Calming Sensory Room. Do You Have A 'Wiggle Room,' Too?

  • Cleaning/Maintenance
    Social distancing markers on school hallway.

    Studying Up: Preparing for Flu Season

    This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu is more important than ever.

  • Adaptive Reuse
    The volume of the existing structure of CEC Fort Collins High School offered an opportunity to bring daylight in from above, creating a community space within the hallway.

    Adaptive Reuse Offers Schools an Opportunity to Innovate, Embrace Sustainability and Reduce Costs

    As the education industry assimilates to a new and uncertain future, we can take one lesson from 2020 with us: we must embrace innovative solutions and have the courage to try new things as we plan for the future. Adaptive reuse can support this endeavor.

  • Classroom Spaces
    Outdoor learning pavilion at Linden Waldorf School in Nashville, TN.

    With New Open-Air Classrooms, Nashville Private School Moves Learning Outdoors

    With a curriculum centered on connection to nature and environmental stewardship, Linden Waldorf School's vision for the pavilions were to move all classes completely outdoors where students get to be in nature throughout the whole school day.

  • Sustainability
    Epoxy flooring at school in Texas.

    Sustainable Flooring Solutions for High-Traffic Educational Facilities

    Sustainable flooring is a smart choice for schools interested in providing a healthy learning environment and demonstrating their commitment to a better global environment.

  • Cleaning
    Student washing hands with touchless faucet.

    How to Improve Infection Control and Handwashing in School Restrooms

    How do you create a hygienic and safe environment equipped to handle everyday usage and increased handwashing activity by students, faculty, administration and staff? And, how do you improve the restroom experience to make it more appealing to its users?

  • Podcast
    Schools in Focus podcast logo and Tom Saccenti

    Schools In Focus: Active Shooter Response Planning

    In this episode, we spoke to Tom Saccenti, a former campus police chief and security expert, about active shooter response planning in schools. His first piece of advice is to walk through an active shooter scenario with all teachers, janitors, staff members, etc. at the school.

  • Cleaning
    Custodial worker using an autovac. Courtesy of Kaivac.

    Proper Mop Care and Other Floor-Cleaning Systems Amid COVID-19

    Floors are too often overlooked when it comes to fighting the spread of infection. For many years, many hospital administrators did not even believe it was necessary to disinfect floors. Now we know better. Floors, as well as the tools used to clean floors, deserve close attention when it comes to minimizing the spread of coronavirus.

  • HVAC
    Maintenance of a building

    4 Ways Schools Can Improve Indoor Air Quality to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission

    A building’s HVAC technology can help decrease the transmission rate or mitigate the risk of exposure. Thus, schools must consider their HVAC system as part of their overall COVID-19 mitigation strategy, in addition to social distancing, cleaning, screening, signage and operational practices.

  • Media Centers
    Flexible furniture to accommodate social distancing in a media center.

    5 Ways to Redesign a Media Center During COVID-19

    If the global pandemic sidelined your plans for creating a very inviting, collaborative, nurturing media center space, get your vision back on track with these five success tips.

  • Visioning workshops with district and community representatives help uncover concerns and goals. Photo: Courtesy of Finegold Alexander Architects.

    CommUnity: Uniting Communities through School Design

    At the onset of a project, the design team and the district must unite to develop the appropriate “Visioning Process” to gain input from teachers, administrators, parents, students, and members of the public. This typically takes the form of in-person workshops or on virtual platforms as we encountered this past spring. The architect can then use that feedback to develop a customized school design that meets the district’s goals and expectations.

  • Podcast
    Schools In Focus podcast logo and Belinda Oakley, CEO of Chartwells K12, and Seth Ferriell, CEO of SSC Services for Education.

    Schools In Focus: Food Service During a Pandemic

    In this episode of Schools In Focus podcast, I speak to Belinda Oakley, CEO of Chartwells K12 and Seth Ferriell, CEO of SSC Services for Education, about school food service during a pandemic.

  • Acoustics
    Walker Grant Center. OddBox Studios; courtesy of Rockfon

    How the Right Acoustic Ceiling Can Improve a School's Performance

    If there is not enough sound absorption in spaces for learning, they are overly loud, reverberant and stressful; not an environment conducive for effective education. Up to one of every four words cannot be understood by students in many classrooms, according to guidelines by the Acoustical Society of America.

  • Sustainability
    Greta Thunberg speaking at a climate change protest in Rome.

    Aspiration to Action: Gen Z’s Call for Change

    Gen Z is advocating for immediate action to secure their future. However, limited by their age, Gen Z is looking to older generations to support them through social and legislative change and conscientious transformations — socially, educationally, and within the built-environment.

  • HVAC
    Aerial photo of a building

    Using AI to Ensure Healthy Air In School Facilities

    AI can change its instructions to your HVAC equipment based on the number of students in a room, the time of day, changes in weather throughout the day, and more, all while ensuring a comfortable environment for your building occupants.

  • Cleaning & Sanitizing
    Teacher disinfecting classroom desks.

    Are We Disinfecting Too Much?

    Will a more methodical, well-thought-out approach be implemented for disinfectant use or, will they be once again randomly applied, essentially using a “hope for the best” mentality? Let’s hope application is not random, and here is why. In the U.S., disinfectants are considered “pesticides” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and rightly so.

  • Safety and Security
    Student wearing a face mask stands in front of thermal imaging device.

    Why Now Is the Time for Schools to Re-Evaluate Safety Plans

    Many of the CDC’s guidelines can be met through the use of technology, and schools should be investing in and implementing technology solutions that not only helps them adhere to CDC guidelines this fall, but bolsters their overall school safety now and in the future.

  • Technology
    Student using her tablet at her desk. Two other students are in the background working at their desk.

    Learning Space Design Plays a Key Role in Supporting Tech Use

    What does it mean for a learning space to support the use of technology? It means the space has been intentionally designed to make it easy for teachers and students to seamlessly use any technology they might need, without having to disrupt a lesson or cut into valuable learning time.

  • Planning
    Man speaking in a video conference.

    How to Keep COVID-19 from Negatively Impacting Learning Space Design

    Here are five ways that K-12 school districts can keep their learning space design projects on track in a world where social distancing rules and shutdowns interfere with normal operations.

  • Meter ranging from green, yellow and red with the word "risk" underneath it with arrow pointing towards "high."

    School Safety and Security: The Value of Knowing What You Don’t Know

    School districts should conduct comprehensive threat vulnerability assessments that not only focus on existing measures already in place, but also encapsulate a thorough review of operational safety and security focused policies and procedures.

  • 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.

  • proper distancing in schools

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

    When students finally return to school after months of learning from home, there will be dramatic changes. Even when K-12 leaders are allowed to reopen their facilities, doing so safely and responsibly will require everyone to maintain proper distancing while they’re at school, experts agree — at least until there is a working vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.

  • Procurement
    cooperative purchasing for schools

    Trends in Cooperative Purchasing

    School districts see value in using cooperative purchasing entities as they get a steady, predictable pricing structure and supplier source.

  • Sensory Rooms
    sensory room

    Sensory Rooms May Help Ease the Anxiety Students Feel from COVID-19

    The stimulating environment of a sensory room may heighten awareness, provide a sense of security and comfort, improve creativity, promote mental and physical relaxation, and even decrease aggressive behaviors.

  • Editor's Note

    A New Back-to-School Experience

  • Building Blueprints
    theater renovation

    Setting the Stage for Success

  • 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.