Rochester architecture firm working with area schools on redesigning classrooms for COVID safety, and equitable education

Back to School: Facts First

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — As the pandemic continues, the concern over schools increases. Districts are trying to do whatever they can to keep teachers and kids safe, and comply with guidelines. Sometimes that means a change from the foundation up.

Joseph Kosiorek works for SWBR Architects and Engineers. He specializes in working with schools on designing and building their educational spaces.

“We guide them or really support the process by saying these are the opportunities to create more equitable opportunities for students,” he said.

Even before the pandemic hit, they company realized that they needed to make big changes. They’re already working with Brighton’s Council Rock Primary School on it spatial and educational optimization.

“For 150 years the traditional educational environment is really based on an industrial model,” he said.

As classrooms become more technological,they also need to be more flexible. So while these changes were coming, Kosiorek says that the pandemic is just serving as a “triggering mechanism” for schools to act faster on these changes.

These kind of structural changes — like increased space and greater technological flexibility in a classroom — can benefit schools long term. Kosiorek says both schools here and across the county that work with SWBR are concerned with “teaching, testing, and tracing.”

While testing and tracing might speak for themselves, teaching might be harder to nail conceptually, regardless of whatever logistical challenges a school might face with any of the “T’s.” SWBR works with districts and educators to build spaces that best optimize the space, with reactive, short term goals, like ensuring social distancing and sanitation measures, and proactive, long term goals, like making rooms physically and technology more flexible.

SWBR hopes that with these kind of structural changes, they can help keep teachers and students safer during the pandemic, and more engaged and prepared in the future.

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