As schools across the nation plan for the fall semester, much uncertainty clouds their future. Some will continue to operate on a largely virtual basis while others will reopen on a full, partial or staggered schedule. Whatever your situation, one thing is certain: your school will have to undergo big changes before it can welcome back students, faculty and staff.
The CDC and other authorities have outlined various measures schools could consider taking to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including (but not limited to):
One of the common themes across all guidelines is the importance of building a solid communication strategy that trains students and staff to follow health, safety and distancing best practices. Everyone must do his or her part to follow best practices and behave in a manner that reduces the spread of COVID-19.
Signs and graphics are one part of the environment that have a powerful effect on the behavior of individuals, helping to communicate information and reinforce rules and best practices. As you reopen, consider these 12 sign types to incorporate into your reopening strategy.
Even if you implement alternating schedules, smaller class sizes and reduced school hours, your school or campus will still need to make social distancing a top priority. With the heavy foot traffic students bring to each space – especially hallways, gymnasiums and cafeterias – temporary solutions like duct tape won’t be sufficient. Vinyl graphics have a much more professional look and are durable enough to withstand frequent foot traffic and regular cleaning. Whether on the floor or on windows, walls and even your transportation vehicles, they can also be customized with school branding and various messages. Such messages could extend beyond social distancing and even provide educational or motivational lessons (think literary quotes, scientific facts or mathematical sums) as students navigate their day.
Even with social distancing and safe hygiene measures in place, certain spaces may benefit from a physical barrier to diminish the spread of COVID-19 droplets in the air. Say hello to clear protection screens. Also known as “sneeze guards,” these can be easily installed at desks, tables and counters. They’re especially helpful in cafeterias (since students will need to remove their masks to eat), and at reception counters and classroom desks.
Many of your staff members will interact with numerous students and other individuals throughout the day. Even with social distancing measures in place, they may appreciate the added protection of a personal protective face shield. Since these shields cover your whole face and neck area, they’re more protective than regular face masks. They can also be easily cleaned and reused.
It’s likely that your usual entrance and exit doors will have been adjusted to meet social distancing requirements and to make way for temperature check stations, isolation rooms and other needs. Whether your students are new or returning, they’ll need clear signage to guide them in the right direction. Enter and exit signs – in conjunction with floor graphics, freestanding signs and even printed maps – will help ensure students navigate your school with confidence.
CDC guidelines state that schools should encourage and train students and staff to follow handwashing best practices. While verbal and printed instructions have a role to play, it’s signage that will reinforce these guidelines and keep everyone practicing them frequently and consistently (instead of falling back to bad habits). These will need to be positioned strategically in spots that lend themselves to signs but are also highly visible, such as bathroom mirrors, cafeteria tables and lobby entrances.
One of the best ways to ensure staff and students follow frequent handwashing best practices is by providing them with readily available hand sanitizers. Since a dispenser by itself is small and easily missed, you’ll need a sign clearly marking each one. This could be as simple as a banner stand or A-frame pointing to the nearby dispenser. But for real impact, consider installing full hand sanitizer stations that suspend and draw attention to the dispenser, and can be positioned in high traffic areas such as lobbies, classrooms and hallways.
Many staff, students, parents or other visitors arrive to school by car. Instructing them where to park and how to get to your appropriate entrance quickly and efficiently will be key to maintaining safety. As drivers navigate your parking lot and other exterior spaces, it’s important you give them clear directional guidance, safety precautions and updates on new entry and exit points. Consider A-frames and yard signs for temporary messages and metal signs for more permanent changes.
Weather-resistant and cost-effective, outdoor banners are a great way for schools to announce their reopening and promote events such as parents’ evenings, fraternity meetings, contests and more. For indoor spaces such as lobbies, consider using banner stands. Their vertical layout makes them perfect for listing health and safety rules, or welcoming back students.
Pole banners have always been a great way to promote a school or college’s identity from the roadside, but now could prove especially effective as states reopen and more people get back out on the roads. You can use pole banners to drum up awareness about your impending reopening, promote upcoming events or even instill a feeling of community and pride among your students.
Like A-frames, pedestal signs are lightweight and easy to reposition, making them ideal for temporary messaging, such as “This Area Closed,” “Authorized Personnel Only,” “Only 6 Individuals Allowed Inside At Any Time,” and more.
Economical and easy to set up, yard signs (also known as lawn signs) can be positioned outside and even beyond your school grounds (depending on local regulations), making them ideal for spreading awareness. Consider using them to announce your school’s reopening, promote meetings and events, or motivate and celebrate your students.
Of course, with health and safety at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it’s easy to forget the importance of school pride and celebration. Many students will be anxious as they return to school, so it’s integral that schools instill positivity and calm using:
These are just a handful of sign types to consider as you build out your school or campus’ reopening strategy. Of course, this is only scratching the surface. Having an experienced signage consultant survey your entire environment will allow you to approach each space with a new perspective and develop fully customized signage that meets your needs.
Not sure where to start? Fill out the form below to download our Education Reopening Checklist. Alternatively, call us on 301-881-7446 to speak with one of our signage specialists for further help with your reopening strategy.
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Our Reopening Checklist outlines several vital strategies your school should follow when reopening, including the upgrading of exterior and interior signage, communications for employees and students, and other safety measures.
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