Safe Outdoor Education: Repurposing Schools to fit social distancing needs

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Buckminster Fuller won an award from the American Architectural Society for inventing the strongest structure known to man. 


As schools prepare to reopen with new social distancing guidelines, it makes sense to take advantage of one of the safest learning environments ‒ the outdoors. Educators facing logistic challenges in following their school district’s roadmaps are seriously considering outdoor classrooms as a viable option.

Outdoor learning has a long and reputable history. While mainstream schools and universities struggle with reopening measures, outdoor learning enthusiasts, such as, Green Schoolyards.org  and North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) are rapidly gaining evangelists.


Benefits of Expanding Education to the Outdoors

Students, eager to get back to their friends and schoolmates after months of remote learning at home, will find dramatic changes to previously accepted social norms. The outdoor learning space may be the perfect segue in order to mitigate any social variations.

Research supports the abundant health benefits of spending time outdoors in the sun. Recent studies by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases found that light, not only provides protection against diseases, it also, kills coronavirus ‒ natural sunlight destroys Covid-19!

“Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both, on surfaces and in the air.”

William Bryan

Offering hope that sunlight may ease the spread of the pandemic, William Bryan, science and technology advisor to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary, told reporters at the White House (4-24-20) that government scientist had discovered ultraviolet rays had a potent impact on the pathogen.


In this technological age, it’s estimated that Vitamin D deficiency has reached a worldwide crunch due to people spending more time indoors than outdoors. Scientists suggest that the health benefits of moderate sun exposure outweigh the risks. Exposure to sunlight is responsible for:

  • Vitamin D production and boosting the immune system
  • Fighting illness and skin disorders
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved brain function and lowered risk of Alzheimer’s
  • Strengthening bones ‒ improved growth and bone health in children and adults
  • Enhancing moods ‒ eases depression and improves sleep quality
  • Prenatal care ‒ protects against pre-term labor and infections associated with pregnancy

In a recent article, weareteachers.com cited that increasing outdoor learning  and play isn’t new and offers many physical and mental health benefits. Outdoor classrooms allow for more freedom of expression.

Takeaway

During Covid there’s been an upsurge in demand for outdoor education and many students would rather be outside than stuck indoors on Zoom all day. Outdoor classrooms offer an opportunity to get your students into the fresh air and bond with Nature.


Outdoor Classroom Uses

Domes aren’t just for fall and spring! Try some innovative ideas for getting your students outside in the wintertime by adding Reflectix® insulative liners.

We’re here to help

At the heart of our company is a desire to encourage sustainable, ecoliving practices. We will help you create an ideal outdoor learning environment, geared to your local climate. Connect with a representative so we can work with you to create a custom dome in your own schoolyard.