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SPS Typical Classroom Layouts by Phase Level

posted May 3, 2021, 5:24 AM by Kelly Johnston
Summary of the Study for Maximum Classroom Occupancy during the COVID-19 Pandemic

 Scarborough Public Schools engaged with Harriman Architects and Engineers this year to determine maximum seating capacities in typical classrooms throughout the district (see link below). Harriman has the depth of knowledge of our school district because of their role in our Long-Range Facilities planning we have conducted over the past several years. In addition, they designed and engineered and helped oversee the construction of Wentworth School and also were the firm responsible for the major construction and renovation of the High School. Their knowledge of our district spaces is extensive.

For this exercise, Harriman was sent updated building plans in addition to measurements of actual classroom furnishings, built-in casework and room facilities such as bathrooms, sinks/counters and student storage areas for coats, boots, packs and supplies. They also received pictures showing the contents of typical classrooms by phase level. They were informed of the CDC guidelines for spacing between students to be three feet and six feet between student and teacher/adult support staff. Finally, we provided an understanding of the “traffic flow” within a classroom, keeping in mind needing emergency egress, access to sinks, bathroom entrances and, in some cases, access to supply areas. In an effort to maximize space, we allowed for desks to be placed directly up against some shelves and cabinets, knowing that arrangements could be made to access supplies and materials on a daily basis by moving student desks and chairs temporarily, if needed.

The average standard desk size for the district is 26” wide by 19” deep, and chair sizes vary depending on the size of the grade level of the students. We used a standard of three-foot distancing between desks from side-to-side and four feet of distance front-to-back to allow for the realistic sliding in and out of a chair (approximately six inches in each direction), so that students could function and still maintain the three-foot distancing standard.

Not all classrooms in the district are the same size. The typical (non-science lab) High School classroom is 750 sq. ft. However, casework shrinks actual floor space such that the overall area is less than that. The same holds true for all school buildings, and Wentworth has the largest area of overall square footage of space per classroom, but loses floor space to built-in casework, cabinets, sinks, and counters, a key component to the original design of the school (plenty of storage for educational materials). The Middle School has two typical classroom sizes which include the main building rooms and the modular classroom building housing the sixth grade. The modular rooms are slightly larger than the typical main building classrooms but also have built-in casework and counters/cabinets that consume floor space.

The Primary Schools have three typical sized classrooms including the original (1957, 1959 and 1965) buildings, the 1992 additions and various modular classrooms. Each style room has a slightly different layout and overall area, but with the variations in built-in casework and bathrooms or closets, they average the same overall space and can accommodate the same number of students. The biggest difference between the modular classrooms at the Middle School vs. the Primary Schools is that the Middle School modular rooms do not have bathrooms, but the Primary Schools do have bathrooms. This is why the Middle School modular classrooms can accommodate two more students in each room compared to the Primary School modulars.

The drawings depicted in this report do not show any additional free-standing teacher materials (shelves, tables, rocking chairs, cabinets, equipment, etc.). These items also consume floor space, which can limit seating, but in discussions with the leadership groups at each school, it became clear that items would need to be rotated in and out of classrooms and put in storage containers as curriculum changes. Additionally, some classrooms require more than one adult in each room, depending on the needs of the classroom, which, again, alters the spacing to some degree. The intent in creating these room layouts was to be as realistic as possible while maintaining the guidelines put forth by the CDC and the DOE and upholding the highest level of safety for all occupants.

Overall, the number of students per classroom throughout the district was determined to be up to 19 students per typical classroom at Scarborough High School, 18 students per typical classroom at Scarborough Middle School and 17 students per typical classroom Wentworth School, and 16 students per typical classroom at the Primary Schools. Staffing levels, however, cannot support this plan this Spring, and additional staff will need to be approved and hired to make this plan work for the start of school in the Fall of 2021.

For safety and school security reasons, entire school floor plans were not included in this summary.

SPS Typical Classroom Layouts






Kelly Johnston,
May 3, 2021, 5:24 AM