Hot Tips: School Bathrooms

Why Bathrooms/Locker Rooms Matter More

We behave and perform optimally in optimal environments. Merchants, restaurateurs and employers know that if we don’t love our environment we can rather easily choose to shop, dine or work elsewhere.

Can students switch schools as easily if they don’t love their schools? Think of students as shoppers of knowledge and as professional learners and it is clear that we must view them with the same respect — as professionals and people with choices.

To our credit, in schools, we adopt new technologies, design spaces to inspire creativity, experiment with teaching methods, and strive to foster feelings of camaraderie, equality, and school pride — all with one aim “so young minds can focus on learning”.

However, primal needs like hygiene, privacy and feeling safe have a magnified effect on our ability to focus and, given the nature of the space, school bathrooms can hurt or help focus in a disproportionate way. Yet people often underestimate that impact. It’s time we change, and here are some easy examples of how.

Consider privacy toilet partitions — they go lower to the floor, and eliminate sightlines into stalls with overlapping doors and pilasters.

Service bathrooms at unpredictable intervals to reduce the opportunity for vandalism or bullying, and, with greater frequency to improve hygiene and ensure enough consumables.

Provide automatic hand dryers as well as paper towel dispensers — both serve specific needs.

Foster a sense of belonging and school pride by using school colors on lockers and partitions.

More than specific solutions your “hot tip” is to “think differently”. Go back and look at one of the most important spaces in your building with a different set of eyes and ask, “How can I improve this space to help a learning mind?”

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Cyrus D. Boatwalla, heads up Marketing for the ASI Group; he can be reached at cboatwalla@americanspecialties.com.

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