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Published: The Forward

SAR Academy and High School was the first school in New York City to shut its doors in the spring of 2020 as cases of the coronavirus were escalating state- and nationwide. At once, the entire school went virtual, taking to Zoom and online learning strategies in order to continue the academic year.

Although the SAR community had to adapt on the spot to a remote education model, they did not hesitate to begin preparing a reopening scheme to ensure a safe and smooth return to in-person schooling when the time came. Studio ST Architects Esther Sperber and Kellen Thayer, in collaboration with Hila Stern of HSB Architecture, used the concept of radical flexibility to redesign the school’s Bronx campus, which reopened its doors to 1550 students this fall.

A graphic from SAR’s design plan showing expanded classrooms in the high school.

Research-driven and science-backed design prioritized the health and safety of staff and students while maintaining the school’s mission. Targeted design interventions, including converting all available areas into pod classrooms, enlarging existing classrooms, adapting the school’s schedule, upgrading HVAC systems, installing touchless fixtures in restrooms, adding new single-user staff bathrooms, and erecting tents on the outdoor sports fields used for lunch and teaching enabled students to return to in-person learning in September. New graphic signage was added to remind students of the health regulations in a fun and educational manner. The reopening plan addressed each age group specifically, taking into consideration the differences in emotional and academic needs of the entire student body.

A graphic from SAR’s design plan.

Read the full article on The Forward