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Gymnasium Inspections for a Safe Classroom Alternative

by | Sep 22, 2020

The year 2020 has proven difficult for everyone.  Quite possibly, the education industry was the hardest hit in terms of the need for completely restructuring the existing system and daily operations.  Schools are not only having to decide whether to offer virtual or blended learning.  If they choose to bring students and staff back in the building, they must also rethink the traditional classroom set up to be able to provide a safe space for learning.

Alternative Spaces for Classrooms

Often, the traditional classroom involves students sharing tables, community spaces for group learning, and a reliance on collaboration.  These are sadly not an option during the times of COVID-19.  Teachers and administrators have to get creative to find solutions that allow for a safe distance between each student.  The CDC recommends that students be seated no closer than 6 feet from each other.  They also advise having all desks facing the same direction.

Because of the smaller size of a traditional classroom and large class sizes, this is not always possible.  To follow the guidelines, some districts have chosen to host classes in other settings around the school.

Some schools lucky enough to be located in areas of traditionally good fall weather have chosen to move outdoors for the classroom setting.  Doing so not only helps with spacing out students but also provides fresh air and increased safety.

Others are looking at various spaces inside the school building to suit their classroom needs.  These are often spaces that are not traditionally used daily.  The most popular options are:

  • Libraries
  • Cafeterias
  • Auditoriums
  • Gymnasiums

Each of these options provides an opportunity to space classes out and abide by CDC guidelines.  However, they all also provide challenges and concerns when thinking about safety.  Of those four, the one that requires most attention before bringing in students is gymnasiums.

Safety Precautions for Gymnasium Classrooms

While it is necessary to ensure the safety of students and teachers in all classrooms, hosting classes in gymnasiums requires a bit more attention to potential risks, simply due to the size of the space and the often dated equipment and furniture.

Top Risks in Gymnasium Classroom Settings

  • Operable/Motorized Walls:  Many gymnasiums offer the ability to section off different areas using moveable walls or partitions.  Some of these require manual movement, while others are motorized for an easy transition of the space. These motorized walls offer an easier option but increased safety concerns.  Oftentimes, there are no safety mechanisms installed with the partitions.  On top of that, very few people are given proper training on how to use the walls.  There has been an unfortunate number of injuries and deaths in the United States due to malfunctions or maloperation.
  • Bleachers:  Bleachers are another area of concern when utilizing gymnasiums as classrooms, and this concern amplifies with the age of them.  Many bleacher sets have damaged seats, are challenging to open and/or close, or have overall structural concerns.
  • Basketball Backstops:  Although classrooms held in the gym are not likely to be utilizing the basketball hoops, safety is still a concern as these large fixtures offer a top safety concern by just being in the vicinity of the class.  Whether the units are suspended from the ceiling, mounted on the wall, or mechanically operated, the mechanics and hardware provide safety concerns if left unattended.

Safety Inspections for Gymnasium Furniture and Equipment

Before sending in classrooms of students and teachers to operate out of a school gymnasium daily, it is crucial to identify any of the risks mentioned above and remediate as needed.  Depending on the gym in question, there are likely additional safety concerns that also need attention. The first step in ensuring safety in these spaces is to arrange a thorough inspection from a professional in the field.  Ideally, schools should conduct these inspections annually, as equipment can deteriorate over time.   It is important to stay on top of any concerns or risks.

Safety Experts at A.T. Equipment Sales

If you are looking to have your gymnasium inspected before utilizing it as an alternative classroom space, A.T. Equipment Sales has got you covered. We offer a service in which an experienced professional in the area of gym safety comes out to the site and performs a thorough inspection of all fixtures and equipment.  Our specialist can identify all areas for concern within the gymnasium.  Along with their findings, they will then provide recommendations for any remediation.  Depending on the state of the current gym, recommendations may range from simply replacing components, repairing hardware, or completely replacing anything that poses a potential threat to students and staff.

Safety should be the top concern in schools, and we are happy to ensure that is the case.  Contact us today to discuss your needs and set up an inspection.

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