6 Considerations for Transitioning Back to School

Title6 Considerations for Transitioning Back to School
Publication TypeWeb Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsNobre, P, Favaloro, J, Thaler, M, Jacob, R
KeywordsCOVID-19; Design

Across the globe, classrooms sit unoccupied. In a matter of weeks, schools have had to pivot to distance learning, while striving to maintain learning outcomes and student engagement in a context of intensified inequity and difference.

The pandemic has spurred incredible changes for education institutions around the globe, but it’s not over yet. There will be many more significant changes to come. In the meantime, our clients are grappling with how they can plan, communicate, and transition hundreds to thousands of students, educators, researchers, and staff back to school with new guidelines and policies that can maintain the health of both their campuses and the broader community. They’re asking: How do we start planning the transition back to school when the time comes? What can we start doing now?

There is no universal approach to reopening schools and campuses, and each institution must navigate the complexities and nuances of its multiple communities. Nevertheless, we have outlined some considerations, tools, and methodologies based on our work with clients that may help guide other institutions facing these unprecedented challenges.


Patricia Nobre
Patricia is a senior design strategist who believes in the power of design to engage all learners. She brings over a decade of experience in designing innovative learning environments throughout Latin America, the Middle East, and the United States. Her academic background in architecture and education give her the tools to affect substantive and effective change in how we learn. Patricia is based in Boston. Contact her at Patricia_Nobre@Gensler.com.

Joey Favaloro
Joey is an architect who specializes in design for 21st-century education. She is committed to personalizing her work through community engagement and building client relationships. A third-generation San Franciscan, Joey is familiar with the region’s landscape and history. Contact her at Joey_Favaloro@Gensler.com.

Mark Thaler
Mark directs Gensler's Education practice area for the Northeast Region. He is one of Gensler's experts in the design of learning environments and student spaces. His projects span the academic spectrum, from K-12 through higher education. Mark is based in New York. Contact him at mark_thaler@gensler.com.

Richard Jacob
Richard is an architect focused on knowledge-led developments whose his chief aim is to bring increased levels of innovation and collaboration to each project he touches. He has crafted and curated the overall vision and direction for these projects and created rich stories to instill a sense of community, pride, and place. Richard is based in London. Contact him at richard_jacob@gensler.com.