PET Felt, The Fabric of Choice for Returning to School Safely

COVID-19 has indeed drastically changed the way we look at returning to school. What used to be an exciting time for both parents and students worthy of that “First Day of School” Facebook post, is now a time of elevated concerns and anxiety surrounding the health and safety of our children. A national survey conducted by Deloitte this summer showed that 66 percent of parents are anxious about sending their children back to school.

Understandably, protecting students and teachers from exposure to COVID-19 is of the utmost importance to school administrators, parents, and teachers during this uncertain time. And, as equally important is the emotional and psychological impact on students and teachers returning to a vastly different classroom set-up and overall learning experience than they were previously accustomed to.

With some schools planning to open their doors as early as late August, districts and administrators are tasked with implementing more stringent strategies for cleaning and disinfecting, as well as creative solutions for classroom design to enable effective distancing procedures.

With these critical elements in mind, it is important to take a tactical approach to classroom design that enforces social distancing, and cleanability while also making sure “school still feels like school” with a comfortable learning environment. By including PET felt partitions and dividers in the return to school plans, schools can create an aesthetically pleasing and welcoming experience while also meeting CDC guidelines for disinfecting and social distancing

PET felt, commonly referred to as “acoustical felt,” is a polyester based material made of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the type of plastic found in water or soda bottles that becomes a soft, yet sturdy felt material.

HOW CAN PET FELT MAKE RETURNING TO SCHOOL SAFER?

#1 IT IS EASIER TO CLEAN AND DISINFECT

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PET felt can be easily and effectively disinfected in compliance to CDC guidelines for killing infectious diseases using the traditional cleaning and disinfecting products or bleach solutions.

We know that viruses are primarily spread through close contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets. Droplets can land on surfaces such as desks, tables, doorknobs, chairs, and supplies. Early research published by the CDC suggests that the coronavirus can remain airborne for up to three hours on soft surfaces, like paper or clothing, and up to 72 hours on hard surfaces like wood, glass, or metal.

PET felt is made of polyester, therefore, it is fabric-based making it a softer surface that the virus would not likely survive on for more than a few hours.

Since PET felt partitions and dividers are not intended for frequent touching, daily upkeep and sanitizing is not tedious or time consuming.

We recommend spraying PET surfaces once a day with disinfectants like Lysol or Comet. Then just allow the surface to dry on its own. For extra caution, spray panels between classroom sessions for rotating classes and in classes with younger age groups that may have more frequent touching.  For deeper cleaning, weekly disinfecting should be done after-hours using a bleach and water mixture.

While we know that the best way to reduce the spread of Covid-19 is to limit close face-to-face contact between individuals; enforcing safe distancing can be quite the challenge in a school setting. However, the possibilities are endless for schools to utilize customizable space dividers and partitions to create zones and define flow naturally.

Over the past five years, PET felt has become the go-to material for acoustics due to its high sound absorption, flexibility and color variety that lends itself to attractive visual design. And now, more than ever, PET partitions and dividers versatility can be an essential component for defining space parameters and creating natural division while delivering optimal aesthetics at the same time.

Likewise, PET partitions, PANL felt screens, and PET Flora plant pots are ideal for guiding foot flow while also absorbing sound in high traffic areas like hallways, cafeterias, and computer labs.

The CDC recommends the following bleach solution ratios:

  • Diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be sprayed on.
  • Or, prepare your own bleach solution by mixing 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water.

#2 ENFORCES DISTANCING, SPACE ZONING AND DEFINES TRAFFIC FLOW

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While we know that the best way to reduce the spread of Covid-19 is to limit close face-to-face contact between individuals; enforcing safe distancing can be quite the challenge in a school setting. However, the possibilities are endless for schools to utilize customizable space dividers and partitions to create zones and define flow naturally.

Over the past five years, PET felt has become the go-to material for acoustics due to its high sound absorption, flexibility and color variety that lends itself to attractive visual design. And now, more than ever, PET partitions and dividers versatility can be an essential component for defining space parameters and creating natural division while delivering optimal aesthetics at the same time.

Likewise, PET partitions, PANL felt screens, and PET Flora plant pots are ideal for guiding foot flow while also absorbing sound in high traffic areas like hallways, cafeterias, and computer labs.

Let us imagine the following scenarios where PET partitions, dividers and screens could be utilized to create safe zoning, and define flow while enhancing student collaboration and the overall “return to school” experience:

  • Students interacting in roundtable class discussion while protected from COVID-19 exposure by desktop dividers between them.
  • Desktop and tabletop dividers in lecture halls, computer labs, and classrooms that promote interactive group learning and collaboration within safely protected personal spaces.
  • FENS acoustical dividers being utilized to create a “room inside a room” experience, safely sectioning space for independent study or quiet reading in a classroom or a library.
  • Highly customizable. (Schools can keep the school spirit alive by incorporating school colors!)
  • Adjustable heights from 2 ft to 6 ½ ft
  • Lightweight and moveable to allow for adaptable positioning for a multitude of educational activities.
  • Available with casters or without.

Further, PET partitions, PANL felt screens, and PET Flora planters can serve as fun and colorful guides for foot flow while also absorbing the louder sounds that occur in high traffic areas like hallways and cafeterias. To visualize these options in action, we can consider the following scenarios:

  • PANL felt screens can have many laser-cut pieces and come in multiple colors. They can be attached as stationary, or moveable, and can include sliding tracks to allow opening and closing.
  • Stationary standalone screens would be helpful in dividing students and navigating foot flow through a busy hallway between classes, or within a classroom.
  • Moveable screens are attached by magnets to a metal ceiling grid to create areas for privacy. The pattern allows natural light to pass through without opening to protect from droplets while providing a personalized space. The screens can be removed and placed in other areas at any time.

#3 MAKE SCHOOL FEEL LIKE SCHOOL, NOT AN INFECTIOUS DISEASE LAB

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As students return to schools, we want to avoid the additional stress and distraction that a sterile environment with daunting signage can cause.  The goal for return to school planning during a pandemic is to get students back to their routine and education while also keeping them safe from exposure to COVID-19.

With this in mind, PET felt dividers, partitions and screens can come in many different colors and be combined into color coding combinations with shapes to create a way-finding and grouping system to successfully navigate students throughout the building in a colorful and fun way.

To learn more about how we can help or to get a quote for products mentioned in this article please click here.