Why Summer Vacation Is the Perfect Time to Renovate Schools 

Jun 9, 2020 by

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Construction projects prove problematic during the school year for several reasons. Protecting the students’ health and welfare is paramount, and crews must go to extraordinary lengths to keep children out of restricted areas. Noisy equipment disrupts classrooms and raises teachers’ ire. 

Summer vacation is the ideal time for renovations, and fixing up existing facilities has several advantages over building new. It promotes neighborhood unity, gives kids a sense of structure and saves considerable money. Districts should consider tackling the following six projects while buildings remain closed for the summer. 

1. Maintaining Lots and Busses 

Tackling repaving projects while school is in session creates multiple issues. Districts go to significant lengths to reduce the chaotic environment immediately before and after school to preserve the educational climate as well as protect student safety. Unfortunately, some parents are prone to driving behaviors that endanger children, and adding more cones and closed areas into the mix can result in disruption, even tragedy. 

Now is the time to repave and paint. It’s also the ideal opportunity to look at how to improve your circulation plan for before and after school parent pick-up and drop-off procedures. You want to discourage high-risk behaviors like backing up and making U-turns — try to create a one-way, single-lane system if possible. You also want to consider crosswalk positions to keep parking at least 20 feet away to avoid blocking the line of sight between drivers and pedestrians. 

2. Repairing and Renovating Furniture 

Do students squirm in their desks, complaining that they are uncomfortable? Some children may do so to seek attention or act out, but others have legitimate complaints. Summer is the time to assess furnishings and determine if a touch-up and cleaning will do the trick, or if you need to do more. You have the following three options when it comes to classroom furniture:

  • Refinishing: When desks become marred with carvings and permanent ink, you don’t want to haul them to the landfill because replacing a full set costs a considerable sum. Refinishing brings out the original beauty of the wood. 
  • Repair: Chair legs can break, and loose nuts and bolts can lead to accidents. Schools need to comply with all applicable safety rules, including student seating. Now is the time to get them up to code. 
  • Restoration: Schools with older furnishings may find that they’re no longer suitable for today’s world. Desks with attached chairs cause accessibility issues for students who use wheelchairs or those who are obese. Restoration can substantially alter these items to make them more modern and comfortable. 

3. Getting Up on the Roof 

Have you ever tried to teach a class with the sound of hammers and boots pounding overhead? Can you do it? Yes. Does it cause significant disruptions in your lesson? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is also a nod of the head. 

Summer is the ideal time to inspect the roof and fix any minor issues before they become dangerous leaks. Water can spur mold and mildew growth and lead to a fire hazard. Additionally, wet floors can lead to slip-and-fall accidents — and potentially costly personal injury lawsuits.  

4. Upgrades for Accessibility 

According to the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), when a business alters an existing facility in a way that affects usability, those upgrades must comply with specific standards. School officials with signing power should consult closely with legal counsel when planning their summer renovation projects. Fortunately, the rules aren’t as stringent for existing buildings. However, you want to ensure that all students can enjoy full use and receive an inclusive education. 

If you are renovating a staff bathroom with only one stall, the new one must meet ADA standards for height as well as wheelchair access. Student bathrooms and locker rooms must also comply. Sinks must have adequate knee space to allow wheelchair users to wash their hands and water and drain lines must be covered to prevent injury. 

5. Improving Air Flow 

According to a report from the National Air Filtration Association, the United States fails many students by exposing them to less than healthy environments. Approximately 6.3 million school-aged children miss days of classes due to various forms of asthma. Mold and germs can flourish inside ducts, and the summertime is ideal for cleaning them. It’s also the time to test the HVAC system and improve filtration to prevent airborne illness — particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

6. System Upgrades 

Finally, schools have multiple moving parts that can break. Issues with the electrical system can lead to devastating fires. Problems with the pipes can lead to leaks, even breakage, and plumbing problems are no joke when you have hundreds of students needing to use the restroom. Appliances in the cafeteria often need TLC during this time, too — as well as a thorough cleaning. 

Summer Vacation Is the Ideal Time to Renovate Local Schools

Trying to perform renovations when school is in session proves problematic for many reasons. School officials should harness the power of summer vacation to make needed improvements to their property. 

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