Although the school year ended abruptly in early spring 2020, many of us have not been able to fully enjoy what at first might have seemed like an elongated summer vacation. For instance, school districts have been working nonstop from day one to research the COVID-19 virus, understand the overall effects of the pandemic, and best prepare for the upcoming school year ahead.
The same goes for many of us who have focused our careers on educational space design. From the early days of schools closing, we have never stopped researching, learning and developing educational designs that can help districts adapt to this new “normal.”
To help make our school environments safer, it is recommended and strongly encouraged to install sneeze barriers at security counters, main office reception desks, nurse’s stations and in common areas where physical distancing is difficult for students to achieve. A transparent barrier is likely the best option as it can allow for visual security and conversation, while still preventing particles from transferring between occupants.
As we make strategic adjustments like this to our physical environments, we must emphasize the importance of installing the safest products possible to help keep our children, teachers, faculty and staff safe from potential COVID-19 exposure. Avoiding products and finishes that could cause long-term health effects due to harsh chemicals, off-gassing and/or flammability should remain a top priority.
For example, while plastic glazing is affordable and readily available, it should not be used at the expense of public safety. The State Education Department of New York State banned the use of specific plastic shields and barriers that do not meet Building Code Requirements.
In addition to several different types of safe sneeze guard products, glass shields ranked among the highest. When specifying and evaluating clear barriers, be sure to select a Class A fire rated, tempered glass to ensure it will meet safety, security and communication requirements.
Furthermore, as our cleaning policies have changed, strong chemicals will likely be used often on these sneeze guards. While some transparent barriers tend to smoke and scratch over time with the use of tough cleaning agents, a commercial grade, good quality glass will not. Tempered or laminated glass products also decrease the risks associated with breaking due to their increased abuse-resistant fabrication.
We are intentionally focused and driven to provide the best solution for our Education campuses. If you need assistance finding glass barrier products, details on installation or have any other questions, contact us at K12@CPLteam.com and we would be glad to give our recommendations.
For more information, please review the latest Building Code requirements.