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ideas & options for

"New Normal" Learning Spaces

Furniture can play a key role in positively impacting teacher/student morale and productivity as well as health and wellness. That is crucial in this pandemic as parents, students, teachers and staff may be apprehensive to return to school. Understanding how you can leverage furniture to adapt to this fluid situation can help alleviate that apprehension and reassure everyone is returning to a safe and productive environment.

We’re here to listen to your concerns and help your school reconnect; to provide you with the environment you need to move forward and remain flexible; and to rebuild that sense of community in a way that honors your school culture. So as you plan your return, consider the following flexible solutions for the classroom and beyond to help you adapt to the ever-changing situation at hand.

Download research summary

Rebuilding Community


Schools are a cornerstone of the community. Beyond the actual school day, these facilities often serve as meeting space for after-school clubs and organizations. People gather on site for concerts and sporting events. School colors and the mascot are seen on T-shirts and signs around town. These intrinsic visual, emotional and physical experiences build school pride and reinforce a sense of community.

The pandemic has disrupted that sense of community. Rebuilding it will mean addressing those intrinsic characteristics. Consider the following:



Will alternating student/staff schedules continue? For how long and to what impact? How can outdoor and communal spaces support de-densification?



Can teachers control their classroom layouts? Can walls or screens be relocated to adapt as needed?



How can you incorporate social distancing among students within administrative spaces or in high-traffic areas such as entryways, cafeterias and libraries?



Where can sanitation stations be placed? What is respiratory etiquette? Cleaning protocols?

where we've been and

Where We're Going

As you compare where we’ve been to where we’re going, one thing is clear – our schools must adapt to ever-changing situations. From point of entry to common areas to classrooms, the "new normal" school needs to address capacity, space, flexibility and safety differently than it ever has before.


Return to School Before and After Pandemic-v2.jpg

Immediate Future

Click on the letters in red below to review our thought process and ideas for changes to consider for various spaces throughout a typical education campus.

Library & Media Center

Libraries and media centers will remain a valuable resource area for students. To ensure students have access to books and digital labs, furniture can be rearranged and spaced accordingly to meet distancing guidelines. Incorporating more individualized seating or elements on casters can also help.

  • Incorporate privacy pods for individual spaces in which to focus.
  • Add privacy screens and dividers to digital lab stations.
  • Use mobile storage elements to ensure furniture can be repositioned to accommodate socially distanced groups.
  • Add screens to the circulation desk as a protective barrier between librarian and student.
  • Create seating areas with tablet arm chairs to encourage social distancing while collaborating; keep these seating areas separated by screens.
  • Incorporate larger tables designed for separation. For example, a sprocket-shaped top provides a specific "notch" for someone to sit.
  • Add screens between booth seating for added barriers.
  • Add a screen with a sanitation station for students/visitors to access as they enter or exit.
  • Use a markerboard screen for messaging or graphics to help direct traffic flow or inform on building policies.
Vestibule & Main Office

Entrances will now need to welcome students and visitors as well as extend a sense of safety and security. A check-in station can provide a natural division of space and help direct entry/exit traffic. End tables between chairs and seating with high backs or tablet arms help create separation.

  • Increase the counter height to provide more separation between staff and visitor.
  • Add frameless screens for additional vertical separation between staff and guests.
  • Use screens to control lunch lines and traffic flow in and out of the kitchen.
  • Use seating with sled bases or four legs instead of casters to limit movement.
  • Add screens between booth seating for added barriers.
  • Use larger-scale lounge furniture to help anchor space and provide a buffer among people.
  • Incorporate screens to divide space and allow for separation.
  • Leverage a bank of storage lockers to hold personal belongings to reduce outside contagions.
  • Use freestanding furniture elements to rearrange workspaces and increase social distancing.
  • Add toppers to spine and flex screens to increase vertical separation.
  • Add height-adjustable screens to allow users to adjust their personal privacy as needed.

Overall Changes

  • Reduce seating and/or reposition furniture to comply with 6' social distancing recommendations.
  • Position screens with sanitation stations at the doors and other convenient areas for students to use as they enter or exit various spaces.
  • Consider spaces where you use architectural walls:
    • Replace pivot doors with sliding or telescoping doors which require less ingress/egress and increase space for traffic flow.
    • Add a second sliding door on an opposite side of the room to guide entrance/exit paths.
    • Remove doors where possible to create clear openings, increase air circulation and eliminate high-touch doorknobs.
    • Change full-height wall panels to panels with open clerestory at the top.
    • Add wayfinding signs or traffic flow guidelines with film, magnets or inkjet-printed panels.

Additional Resources

Social Distancing Dividers 

View our standard and modified options for screens and dividers, which provide an easy way to define space, regulate traffic flow and provide acoustic and visual privacy.

Infection Control 

Review our guidelines which are acceptable for mitigating infection and maintaining the appearance, finish and function of your KI furniture.

Research Summary 

Download our comprehensive summary of research and insights for how to redesign the post-pandemic education campus.

Classroom Solutions 

Consider these flexible furniture solutions to support the need for distanced classroom layouts.


Let's Connect

We can help support your efforts in redesigning and furnishing your school amidst the pandemic.
Connect with your dedicated KI specialist to begin the discussion!

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