Rethinking Every Space on a College Campus Is the Best Way to Keep Students and Athletes Engaged

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College is a lot of things, but it is safe to say that for it to be the most meaningful it is important that it be about connections and passion. As the entire nation works to adjust to new guidelines about social distancing, the most thoughtful colleges are working to implement portable office walls, new ventilation systems, and materials that would otherwise have been used for in plant offices to create more safe spaces for students and athletes.

When it comes to connections and passion, in both a literal and figurative sense, it is important to note that the athletic experience meets both of these trademarks. Finding a way to keep students and athletes alike safe during these challenging times helps to create the kind of connections that will help this generation navigate and complete their academic degrees while also enjoying their sport.

Last year colleges in some parts of the country may have had to travel long distances to competitions that they enjoy the most, but this year the simple ability to continue to practice and compete in any manner with local teams remains the biggest challenge. Unfortunately, as a result of drops in enrollment and limited, and sometimes eliminated, competition schedules, many schools are having to make difficult decisions about what teams to keep. Finding a safe and affordable way to adapt current classrooms and labs, however, can ease the financial burden that so many colleges are facing. With the implementation of spaces that are similar to in plant offices, for example, many colleges are able to still offer in person learning environments. These are the kinds of setting that not only keep students engaged, but also productive.

When schools make decisions to eliminate even one sport they are doing more than erasing a single team with that decision. They are also eliminating the connections and passions of young athletes who want to compete at whatever level is available to them. Without this additional motivation and connection, these colleges may find that they are going to lose the students who they want the most. For these reasons, there are some colleges that are fighting tooth and nail to rethink and redesign workout and practice spaces, just as they are creating more safe and separate learning spaces.

Colleges and universities are going to need students with both passions and connections to succeed in these uncertain times, but it seems unwise to eliminate a program that helps build strong athletes who learn to balance the academic rigor of an institution and the schedule of practices and competitions. If the addition of in plant office like spaces can create a safer environment, then it is more likely that athletes will get to grow their passion for their sport, while at the same time creating more motivation for their academic endeavors.

Materials for In Plant Offices and Prefabricated Office Walls Offer Many Options for College Learning Environments

Even before the pandemic, some colleges in an effort to provide a more environmentally friendly green campus were making use of prefabricated in plant offices and other kinds of partitioning materials that could be recycled and reused in various ways. According to UK-based Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), modular construction can reduce waste materials like bricks, concrete, cement, timber, wood pallets, shrink wrap, cardboard, and plasterboard by as much as 90%. Finding a way to cut costs while also providing safe and separated work and learning spaces is one way that the most successful campuses are working to meet these latest challenges. Every student and every athlete wants to return to a more normal experience, but until that can happen, it is important that they remain connected even while they are being asked to socially distance. Fortunately, modular methods allow for speedier construction times while still maintaining quality. One Chinese modular construction company, for instance, recently built a 57-story building in just 19 days, so creating new safe learning and lab options should be even simpler. Keeping both students and athletes safe is the best way to make sure that a college can survive the challenges of the Covid 19 pandemic.

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