BROOKLYN, N.Y., May 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools (LAB) is announcing the launch of its new "Back to School Facilities Tool Kit" to serve as a resource for schools nationwide to create fair, equitable plans to reopen their doors, while protecting the well-being of all students, teachers, staff, and their families. The tool kit was developed through a partnership with Urban Projects Collaborative (UPC) and five leading design firms: Gensler, PBDW, PSF Projects, SITU, and WXY.
The 100-page tool kit reflects insights and addresses early concerns from public health experts, students, teachers, parents, guardians, and schools. It serves as a visual guide for schools preparing to reopen after COVID-19 closures, presenting multiple ideas for facilities interventions focused on creating an environment that supports social distancing and other health-related requirements for both the journey to school and the classroom experience.
Schools across the country are anticipated to reopen this fall, but there is no clear roadmap for how to do this while prioritizing health and safety, especially for schools in dense urban environments. The "Back to School Facilities Tool Kit" is designed to serve as a collective, collaborative resource that any school can use to start conversations and begin preparation around how to protect the well-being of students, teachers, staff, and their families. The tool kit, which will continue to evolve to the realities of the pandemic, puts equity at the core, offering solutions that will effectively serve all community members, particularly students with disabilities.
"All reopening preparation must consider the needs of medically fragile family members, individuals with disabilities, people of color, and other groups who have been disproportionately affected by the consequences of the pandemic," said Eric Tucker, co-founder and executive director, LAB. "We are sharing this tool kit not only to solicit feedback on an early version of our own approach to reopening at LAB, but to provide a collaborative framework for conversations with schools across the country."
No school has the time or resources to tackle all challenges related to these upgrades alone, and LAB believes in advancing solutions that embrace equity. "As a laboratory school, we believe that creating and widely sharing design solutions and tools for effective adaptation is part of our mission," said LAB chief financial officer Sheryl Gomez. "We encourage all school leaders to begin the careful preparation and revision of plans necessary to meet the needs of all learners this fall." As a founding partner of the Educating All Learners Alliance—a new partnership dedicated to educating all learners during the COVID-19 humanitarian disaster—LAB will be distributing the tool kit through this network and beyond.
Ideas from the tool kit include:
- How to map a journey from home to school that integrates new requirements for health and safety. The first set of ideas focuses on the arrival and entry process as students and staff transition into the building, taking into consideration the egress challenges LAB and many other schools face.
- How to upgrade classrooms to comply with social-distancing requirements. The second set of ideas focuses on practical and feasible re-mapping of classrooms, breakout rooms, and common spaces. These classroom upgrades focus on service mandates for students with disabilities and the well-being of all members of the school community.
The tool kit aligns with standardized health and safety recommendations from education leaders, as well as LAB's own goals to build equity into the school reopening design.
The standardized recommendations include:
- Maintaining physical distancing.
- Putting the infrastructure and resources in place to test, trace, and isolate new cases.
- Deploying public health tools that comply with federal, state, and local guidelines regarding COVID-19.
- Involving workers, teachers, unions, families, students, and communities in all planning.
Beyond meeting these requirements, LAB set three additional goals for the tool kit. It must be:
- Focused on meeting the needs of all students, especially students with disabilities.
- Practical and easy to adapt to ever-changing circumstances.
- Modifiable for use by other schools in other contexts.
Those who are interested in learning more about the tool kit and a safeguarded reopening are encouraged to attend Digital Promise's Learner Variability Project's webinar on June 8, 2020, which will include the American Federation of Teachers and design team members, along with LAB teachers and educators. Further details are available here. This is version one (V1) of the tool kit, and LAB is eager for feedback and input from the education community; learn more at the Back to School Facilities Tool Kit website and view a short video about our plans.
About Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools
Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools (LAB), founded in 2014, is a network of public charter schools that will serve 6-12th grade students this fall. LAB was designed to educate high-need urban students, particularly those who are least well-served by their current educational options. Named a "Center of Excellence" for its work with Students with Disabilities by the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, LAB aims to meet the individual needs of each student and to leverage innovative technologies and learning practices to eradicate the achievement gap. LAB was selected as an XQ school and is actively involved in work to upgrade and rethink high school to better meet the needs of students and of the future. For more information, please visit BrooklynLaboratorySchool.org.
LAB partnered with the following firms in preparing the tool kit:
About Urban Projects Collaborative (UPC)
UPC provides owner representation services for clients engaged in the design and construction of capital projects and facilities oversight. www.upcnyc.com
Gensler is a global design firm partnering with clients to make the places people live, work, learn, and play more inspiring, resilient, and impactful. www.gensler.com
About PBDW Architects
PBDW Architects delivers design with insight and empathy, leveraging the capabilities of architecture to connect people with places and time. www.pbdw.com
About PSF Projects
PSF Projects is an award-winning firm delivering visionary, customized designs for commercial, institutional, residential, and workplace projects. www.psfprojects.com
SITU is an unconventional architecture practice based in New York City, using design, research and fabrication for creative and social impact. www.situ.nyc
WXY is an award-winning, studio-based multidisciplinary practice focusing on innovative approaches to public space, structures and cities. www.wxystudio.com
SOURCE Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools