Efforts to minimize barriers between instructional areas and corridors by glazing with ordinary glass or by eliminating portions of corridor walls run counter to traditional safety requirements, but have been accomplished through special provisions of sprinkler systems, plan organization, and building material use. Open planning for large instructional areas accommodating several groups with no designated corridor areas and with flexible divisions provided by movable partitions and divider units also presents special problems of safety Since many codes were written before this educational concept became popular, planning of this type will require conferences and cooperation with public safety officials to obtain agreement on acceptable provisions for safety.
Some safely considerations, such am avoidance of risers at entrances, also relate to the needs of the handicapped and the temporarily disabled. Low-pitch ramps instead of stairs at changes in level can be a safety feature as well as a service to the physically handicapped and an aid to the movement of maintenance equipment and supplies. Special additional provisions for the handicapped should be made in toilets and other areas.
Secondary to life-safety considerations, but still a major factor in school design, is the preservation of building integrity and security. Fire insurance bureaus establish requirements of building design and construction which must also be checked lor the safety of the occupants and for qualification for reasonable rates of insurance. External security should be provided by night illumination of the area around the building and by other electronic systems. Problems of vandalism are increasing with exterior glass a particular target. Currently, glass areas are being reduced along with the trend to air conditioning, and new types of plastic glazing are being used.
While most responses to the various safety-factor requirements are quite obvious, corn-monsense planning and aesthetic consideration can make schools more safe in other ways. The particular use of colors and materials can produce an aura of serenity arid order in themselves. A plan of sure clarity can minimize confusion and make circulation patterns clearer. Carpeting and other acoustic provisions can reduce noise and distraction. Materials that are attractive but easily maintained will allow a cleaner and safer school. And. lastly, the attitude of those learning and teaching in the school can make it safer. A clean, well-done, well-run, and "happy ship' school is a safe school.
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