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Looking ahead to next fall when school is back in session, parents of Seeds of Health (SOH) students can rest assured the staff is ready to provide a safe, healthy, and progressive learning environment for their children. That’s because Seeds of Health is ahead of the curve in terms of creating safe, healthy, and innovative environments for students and staff alike.
In the meantime, when the administrative office staff returns to work late this spring, they’ll find themselves in newly remodeled office space that was fortuitously designed with social distancing in mind. The new central office at 600 E. Wells St. allows SOH to quickly address the “new normal” in office practices brought on by COVID-19.
Executive Director Marcia Spector made the decision to move administrative personnel to one location in order to free up space at Tenor High School on Jackson St. for expansion and control the number of visitors each day. The move is especially significant in this new climate calling for a reduction in foot traffic and unnecessary interactions in our professional environments and schools.
The move helps SOH admin staff work safely and effectively on many levels. Careful attention was given to design and layout of the space to allow for social distancing, technology implementation, and effective work practices.
To begin, staff and visitors will enter through one entrance, featuring a large foyer and a waiting space that allows for proper distancing. Meetings will take place in the large conference room with room for ample spacing between its occupants. The room includes a large screen, and Zoom technology, making it unnecessary for the admin team to have teachers, students, or visitors physically present for meetings. This supports efforts to make social distancing a priority and helps all involved work more efficiently by eliminating the need to travel between SOH schools and its central office.
The floorplan of the office was designed so that each person would have their own office, far enough apart from the rest of their team to effectively social distance on a daily basis, yet close enough to maintain an office atmosphere. State of the art technology allows the key personnel to function individually without having to work closely together. This includes multiple printer and copy stations throughout the space to discourage grouping at one station.
Hand sanitizer stations are not new to SOH, as measures like this have been implemented in the past, but the new office space features an increased number of stations, safely spaced apart. Signs and posters throughout the space (and schools) offer messages reinforcing the need to wash hands often. In addition, all finishes throughout the space from the new blinds to the carpet tiles that can easily be cleaned or replaced have been updated with materials that are easy to keep sanitized and disinfected. A remote security system allows staff to access security from their desks, a measure that adds to the overall safety and security of the office occupants in general and cuts down on the need to leave one’s office.
Refreshment stations are dispersed throughout, allowing staff to distance themselves. While SOH had previously abandoned disposable coffee cups and utensils in favor of sustainability, coffee will now be served in disposable cups to mitigate the transfer of disease. In addition, updated cleaning protocols will be implemented in the new office and all SOH schools to address the new hypervigilant climate focused on reducing the risk of virus transmission.
The SOH new central office certainly comes in a timely response to the new requirements of functioning in a new system. But in reality, the space is just another example of the risk management protocol awareness that SOH has consistently implemented to keep staff and students healthy throughout the flu season and all year long.
Moving forward, SOH will continue to work hard to be sure protocols are in place so that students, teachers, and staff remain as safe and healthy as possible.
Social distancing is here to stay, and Seeds of Health is ready to safely lead its staff, families, and students into this new frontier.
About Seeds of Health, Inc.
Founded in 1983, Seeds of Health, Inc. is the only K-12 charter school agency in the state of Wisconsin serving approximately 1,300 students in four high schools and a K-8 elementary program. The five individual and unique education programs serve a broad range of student needs – from at-risk to the college bound. Seeds of Health is Milwaukee’s innovative “home grown” answer to imaginative, collaborative and cutting-edge education options, with the vision to positively impact the growth and development of urban children. For more information, please visit www.seedsofhealth.org.