Post-Pandemic Schools: What does that look like?

Article | 08.31.2021

The June Wednesdays With Wightman Town Hall focused upon moving beyond the global crisis and lessons learned in education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wightman's Regional Director of Architecture, Education Sector Leader, and Recognized Educational Facilities Planning (REFP) expert, George Kacan, facilitated the session and panel discussion. The panel included architect and educational facility planner Amy Yurko; equitable education strategist Kyle Conley; Superintendent of Ravenna Public Schools, leadership coach, and author Greg Helmer; and Wightman's Director of Architecture and Accredited Learning Environment Planner (ALEP) expert, Greg Monberg.

An internationally acclaimed educational facility planner and instructor for the A4LE's advanced course for ALEP, Ms. Yurko is uniquely qualified to provide insight regarding lessons learned in education during the COVID-19 pandemic. She began the panel discussion by suggesting positive connotations of commonly utilized terms that, during the pandemic, were typically uttered with pessimism. For example, the term 'safe' could bring to mind the positivity of 'clean air' rather than the negativity of 'detachment.'

Ms. Yurko advocated embracing initiatives that worked well during the pandemic rather than returning to the status quo. The other panelists expressed their support: Greg Helmer noted the growing popularity of outdoor classrooms and the need for durable and mobile furniture. Greg Monberg and Kyle Conley stressed the need to continue to ensure that students receive an equitable education both on and off-ground. George Kacan reflected upon the shift from on-ground to online during the pandemic and emphasized that rapid, controlled change is always possible.

A key takeaway is that hybrid education can benefit students and faculty since some strategies work best for remote learning while others are optimally suited for on-ground. For example, it is vital to offer hands-on learning experiences for students who choose a vocational rather than college-bound learning path.

Here is a recording of the session.