The start of a new school year is here, but no one’s first day back is going to be as simple as showing up in the classroom with a pencil and a notebook ready to learn. For students and teachers who are returning to school for in-person learning there is a lot of worry and a lot of questions about how to balance reopening schools safely while also creating a positive learning environment. And for school districts and administrators there are concerns about how to implement solutions that enhance learning and safety on a limited budget.
PSNI integrators around the world are ready to help universities and K-12 schools identify the solutions that meet their needs and budget as they resume face-to-face instruction. And their expertise goes beyond what you might think of as traditional audio visual (AV) tools. Keep reading to learn more.
For Schools Returning to In-Person Learning, Safety Comes First
In-person instruction is the most familiar and preferred learning method, especially for younger children, and technology will play a new role in classrooms as health and safety concerns come to the forefront.
“We believe face-to-face instruction is ideal, but fluidity and flexibility will be key as we start an unprecedented school year,” said representatives from PSNI member Tierney. “Teachers should expect their classroom environment to change quickly and frequently this year and will need plans and solutions that allow for those quick changes. Schools should take this opportunity to redefine teaching and learning, open up conversations about improving education, and lean on experts to help them use this year as a catalyst to change classrooms for the better.”
AV integrators are ready and able to help you select and implement the safety solutions classrooms will require, even though many of them are not what first comes to mind when you think of AV. These health and safety solutions include:
- UV light disinfectants can clean high touch surfaces down to the microscopic level without human intervention. Some AV companies, including PSNI member Granteq, are launching their own UV light emitters to help customers build comprehensive technology solutions that meet all their essential needs.
- Thermal scanners are a quick and non-invasive way to check for elevated temperatures in students, teachers, and even parents entering a school building. Some thermal cameras can also integrate with smartphone apps, such as Protect 98 from Data Projections, for increased convenience and peace of mind. “We are working closely with our manufacturers to determine unique solutions that meet the new demands of our education clients,” Data Projections said. “We are also working to create a vision for how these solutions will adapt the teaching and learning process.”
- Hand sanitizer kiosks in classrooms and other gathering places such as hallways and cafeterias make it easy and convenient to maintain good hand hygiene, while also offering some opportunities for creative AV integrations (more on this below).
- Plexiglass dividers can create physical barriers when social distancing is difficult to achieve, for example in a classroom or around a teacher’s desk.
Enhanced Audio Visual Solutions Support Face-to-Face Instruction
When it comes to more traditional AV solutions, some health and safety measures create new opportunities for unique integrations, while others create new needs for more robust AV support. AV solutions schools should consider include:
- Digital signage. In a time when information is critical, and information is also changing fast, digital signage represents a convenient way to communicate quickly. Digital signage can also be integrated with new health and safety solutions. For example, digital signage at hand sanitizer kiosks can remind students and teachers of important safety messages while they use the dispenser. “Our digital signage solutions also keep students at school safe by controlling traffic flow, monitoring maximum gathering size, and mounting healthcare technology to achieve peace of mind,” said representatives from Legrand AV.
- Enhanced audio. Masks, barriers and increased distance between students and teachers in the classroom can all create new audio challenges. The definition of a classroom is also shifting, with many teachers using gyms, auditoriums, and other larger spaces to conduct classes. These larger spaces make social distancing easier, but they also make hearing clearly harder. “We are seeing many clients focused on high-quality audio,” said representatives from Shure. “They are equipping teaching spaces with traditional wired and wireless microphone set ups with digital signal processing that integrates with streaming equipment. More advances systems integrate vocal lift—a type of sound system that is able to capture audio from every single student.”
- Contactless and wireless content sharing. These solutions make it easy for students to annotate and share content from their own devices without having to leave their seats or use a communal, high touch surface.
AV Integrators Can Help with Reopening Schools Safely
In addition to weighing the safety needs of schools and the best AV and other solutions to meet them, education stakeholders, IT teams, and technology buyers also have to factor their budgets into any purchases and investments.
PSNI integrators can not only help customers find the best solutions but can also help them use those solutions to build a comprehensive, long-term strategy and system that will meet their changing needs for years to come.
“Technology solutions are absolutely the only way for schools to create a flexible and safe learning environment for all students,” said Tierney. “More importantly, this year will impact teaching and learning in the long-term, so schools are not simply making investments for one year, but for many years to come.”
For more insight from PSNI members about the long-term technology investments schools should make, download our education guide today.