In 2020 and 2021, we learned a lot of new things. New ways to work. New terms like “social distancing” and “contact tracing.” We learned new ways to be together from anywhere. Now, it’s looking as if the end may be in sight as vaccines are distributed and case rates decline.
Although we’re all eager to return to how things were before, we will still have to learn to navigate the post-COVID-19 era responsibly.
Some of the changes we’ll face in the coming months will be familiar, but some will be new to a post-pandemic world. Here at Sloan, we know that best practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19 are still changing, but there are some essential elements that will remain critical to keeping people safe.
Let’s see how offices and schools will have to pivot operations to continue keeping workers and students safe in 2021 and beyond.
It’s been a while
For some students and workers, remote work and learning have been the norm for over a year now. As more people return to work and school, getting back into old routines may take some adjustment. The same goes for the places where we work and learn.
Returning to the office or classroom will require extra care to ensure the health and safety of everyone inside. Plumbing, ventilation, and restroom design that reduces contact points may all play a role in continuing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as other viruses and bacteria.
When it comes to plumbing, one concern schools and offices may have is legionella bacteria. These harmful microbes may have the chance to develop in unused plumbing systems during extended closures.
Regular line purging of all water fixtures—from sinks and toilets to water fountains and ice machines—is recommended during periods of prolonged disuse. Sloan can help keep water safe and clean with smart water technology. Features like automatic line purging keep water from stagnating and help make a safe return to school or work possible.
Restroom updates can also play an important role in preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria. Recommended updates such as floor-to-ceiling stall dividers, an emphasis on touch-free faucets, soap dispensers, hand dryers, and flushometers, and other simple retrofits can go a long way towards keeping occupants healthy and safe as people return to their routines.
Sloan’s Room Ideas are design concepts that can help guide these updates, with a full range of aesthetic offerings that emphasize durability, sustainability, and hygiene. These concepts are applicable across a variety of different use cases and can be customized to fit specific spatial and accessibility needs.
Financing a safer return
As we all prepare for the next steps on the road to getting back to normal, some facilities may be concerned about their ability to finance the updates needed to keep outbreaks at bay. Schools and venues may find some financial assistance from The Elementary and Secondary School Relief Fund (ESSER), Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEER), or Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER).
These funds may be able to help your facility cover the cost of updating restrooms before reopening. We offer several educational resources to help you determine whether restroom updates that minimize contact points can be financed through one of the funds above.
Back to school, safely
Remote learning has been an adjustment, and students of all ages and grade levels are looking forward to returning to in-person instruction as soon as possible. Though schools are eager to open their doors again as well, they’ll still have to put measures in place to keep students, teachers, and staff safe.
Maintaining social distance, wearing masks, and emphasizing proper handwashing and sanitizing may still be recommended as students return to in-person learning. To help create more opportunities for handwashing, especially before meals, Sloan offers Mobile Handwashing Stations that can be placed easily into cafeterias, gymnasiums, entrances, and even classrooms.
Our Mobile Handwashing Stations put the entire handwashing experience on wheels and can be deployed quickly when needed. Mobile units feature touch-free faucet options, an enMotion® Towel Dispenser, and a Purell® Soap Dispenser. Select models also include a hot water heater, two 5-gallon water jugs, and a 16-gallon grey water tank. For longer-term connections, select Sloan models of Mobile Handwashing Stations can be hooked up to standard ¾” water line connections and drain lines for greywater.
Working together again
Workplaces were some of the first to be shut down in many areas. Now that workplaces are returning to their 9-to-5 routines, it’s important to keep employees safe. Measures that limit shared contact and close interpersonal proximity will help mitigate the risk of outbreaks as we navigate a post-pandemic world together.
Offices may consider staggering workstations or changing seating plans to keep employees at a safe distance. For shared spaces like conference rooms, one solution might be to minimize and distance available seating. In dining areas and other spaces where unmasked group activities will occur, layout alterations that allow for social distancing should be prioritized. Plexiglass partitions between seating areas may also play a role in preventing the spread of respiratory droplets in these spaces.
In restrooms, offices may consider investing in touch-free plumbing hardware to help reduce contact points for every user. Our BASYS® Handwashing Faucets are a great option, with customizable crowns and smart timers that help users keep track of how long they should be scrubbing their hands (without sharing their personal rendition of “Happy Birthday”). BASYS Faucet crowns are available with solar-powered digital displays for handwashing guidance or can be branded with company logos and more with laser-engravings.
Time to get moving
As we move into the post-pandemic era, it is imperative that all of us take what we have learned about the spread of bacteria and viruses and continue doing our best to prevent their spread. Though social distancing, protective barriers, and universal mask-wearing may all be phased out as more people are vaccinated, keeping some precautions in place will leave us with a more hygienic, healthier, and safer world.
By simply taking the time and effort to create additional handwashing opportunities and decreasing contact points, our schools and offices can play a role in shaping our hygiene habits at a cultural level. In the long-term, that could mean more manageable flu seasons, healthier students and workers, and a cleaner world.
Today, however, creating safe, hygienic spaces is especially key to preventing outbreaks of COVID-19. That means ensuring students and workers have the protection they need from day one: clean, bacteria-free water, opportunities to remain socially distanced as needed, and an infrastructure to support their safety.
Here at Sloan, we’re proud to play our part in preparing schools and offices with the reliable water technology they need to face reopening—and the future—with confidence.