ASLA Members:

We have a distinct opportunity to utilize our design skills and expertise to assist schools in providing adequate, socially distant outdoor learning spaces so they may better function when opening back up in the fall.

As many of us and our communities face the impossible choice between work or school and childcare, there is a growing movement this summer to help K-12 school districts find a way forward to open in the era of COVID-19. Central to this issue is equity—the ability to meet the needs of students with the least resources.

Green Schoolyards America (GSA) and their partners are organizing a national COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative around the idea of using outdoor school space, parks, and other outdoor areas as assets to provide space for students to go to school. With their partners they are working to match currently unemployed nature and informal science educators with schools to mutually benefit both. The goal is to help students return to their school sites in the fall. See the GSA website to learn more about the proposal.

As the interdisciplinary effort to re-open schools using outdoor space moves forward, schools across the country will need help designing and diagramming outdoor learning areas. While they ultimately may want living landscapes full of shade trees, the immediate focus is on emergency outdoor classrooms—anywhere on their school grounds or in local parks where classes can safely take place. GSA is looking for landscape architecture students, faculty and professional volunteers to help interested schools across the nation make site plans for the fall.

There are two ways you, as landscape architecture students, faculty, and professionals, can help:

1. Please forward this email to preK-12 schools and districts in high-need neighborhoods. Ask them to sign up to express their interest in having design support HERE.

2. Help schools design and diagram outdoor classroom plans to help them reopen. Please volunteer your design skills by signing up HERE.

Learn more about the working groups here:

If possible, please watch the introductory webinar and/or review the slides from GSA’s June 4th session before joining the planning conversations.

Please forward this on to co-workers, friends and your local school administrators!

Thank you very much!