What is Being Done About Overcrowded Classrooms?

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    February 18, 2021

    What is Being Done About Overcrowded Classrooms?

    Knocking elbows and desk partners aren’t just a nuisance: they are quickly becoming a liability. School administrators are responding to the increasingly urgent reality of overcrowded classrooms. The reality is, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, overcrowding in schools is a genuine point of concern. And yet, educators and mental health experts alike are encouraging some version of in-person learning for most students. This presents a conundrum and has school staff scrambling for solutions. The good news is, the problem and effects of overcrowded classrooms can be resolved with the right resources and a little creativity.

    One of the best solutions for overcrowded classrooms is modular classrooms (also known as school portables). Check out the ultimate guide for modular classrooms to learn more about this building type.

    Overcrowding in Schools: the Problem

    Overcrowding in schools is an undeniable problem that didn’t, in fact, arise because of the pandemic. However, new state standards have made an existing problem immeasurably worse. Here are two examples of the problems being faced in various state school systems:

    Overcrowding Example #1) New York City Schools

    New York City has been very strict about COVID-19 rules and regulations. The state is steadily moving toward a full reopening, but with numerous caveats. As of February 8, 2021, about 62,000 middle school students will get to go back to in-person classes. High schools remain completely remote. Mayor Bill de Blasio has been in an (often bitter) battle with the teachers union for several months to decide on the right security measures for reopening. These measures have largely related to social distancing and providing students with the recommended six feet of distance between desks.

    Overcrowding Example #2) Georgia Schools

    In the state of Georgia, which has been less strict than NYC with COVID-19 shutdowns, the education board is letting individual districts decide. COVID-19 and Georgia schools have included various waves of shutdowns, partial in-person learning and guidance programs. The Georgia school districts have provided emotional support resources, guides for how to serve students with disabilities in an online learning environment and a Home Classroom portal. Some Georgia schools are still shut down due to rising cases and the inability of local schools to implement social distancing.

    The Effects of Overcrowded Classrooms

    There is more than conjecture to back up the danger of disease spreading in overcrowded classrooms. In October 2020, the World Health Organization published a COVID-19 update on what experts had learned about COVID-19 Transmission in Schools. Here’s what they found:

    • Even though young children are considered “low-risk” for the virus, community transmission escalates the risk of an outbreak.
    • Local transmission, which is what occurs in overcrowded classroom settings, is strongly linked to the number of outbreaks.
    • Prevention and protection measures are both vital to reduce risk and the spread of the virus in schools.

    School Overcrowding Solutions

    While administrators, educators and families all agree that overcrowded classrooms are a problem, there isn’t consensus about a solution. Administrators remind the public that school buildings have limited space. What was historically adequate to accommodate a certain number of students is now frowned upon or sometimes completely prohibited by state social distancing mandates.

    While it may feel like they are being asked to provide an overcrowding solution without reasonable time or resources, they’re rising to the occasion. Here are three of the main solutions to school overcrowding that are currently being used by educators around the country.

    1. Remote/In-person Learning Hybrids

    Hybrid learning models are considered lower risk than full-time, in-person learning. These involve a mix of in-person learning and remote learning. In this case, remote/in-person learning hybrids will consist of small group class activities or events, no mixing of groups and minimal physical sharing. Of course, it should also include regular cleaning, face masks, hygiene and social distancing.

    There have been some challenges to this model, especially with certain age groups.

    2. Rotating School Schedules

    One popular model, especially in densely populated metro areas, has been the use of “cohorts” and rotating school schedules. Essentially, small groups of same-age children are chosen to attend in-person classes together. There is no mixing between groups and they always have the same teacher. The thought is that this creates something like a “germ bubble,” in which exposure is limited to a specific number of people.

    To pull this off, many schools have had to go to staggered school schedules. This may mean that, instead of attending school from 8:00am-3:00pm, elementary school children go to school for fewer hours either earlier in the morning or later in the day. Other ways administrators are building a schedule around student rotations are:

    • Weekly school schedule rotations
    • A/B (or daily alternating) rotations
    • Once a week rotations

    3. Portable Classrooms and Modular Classrooms


    To maintain small classroom sizes, Mobile Modular provided the West Northfield School District in Glenview, IL. with a 9,588 sq. ft. modular classroom that was connected directly to their existing building. Read more here.

    The first two options require an upheaval of schedules and aren’t always possible. Working parents, for example, may be unable to continue overseeing at-home virtual learning. The same issue exists with shifted schedules, as changes may or may not work with schedules of parents or other kids in the home. Lastly, some parents are simply eager for their children to return to some kind of “normal life” at school. They want the full, in-person
    experience. Of course, they also want their children to be safe.

    That’s where this third school crowding solution comes into play. Portable classrooms (or modular classrooms) are a fraction of the cost of building and literally expand the footprint of a school to give each child more space. These are being purchased en masse by administrators who realize that it is really the only option within the budget and accelerated timeline. The good news is, portable classrooms aren’t trailers or in any way inferior to a concrete block classroom. In fact, in most cases, they are better.

    Benefits to Using School Portables to Resolve the Issue of Overcrowded Classrooms:

    Quick Timeline for Classroom Delivery and Installation

    Portable classrooms can be purchased, prefabricated (offsite), shipped, assembled (onsite) and in use within weeks. This means an accelerated timeline with minimal disruption to overcrowded classrooms who are waiting for solutions.

    Durability Promotes Both Temporary and Permanent Classroom Options

    Portable classrooms don’t have to be a temporary option if you don’t want them to be. In fact, permanent modular classrooms can be completely customized and installed as a long-term part of a school campus. This not only mitigates the immediate risk of overcrowded classrooms but provides growth opportunities for years to come.

    Affordability via Leasing and Cooperative Purchasing Options

    Modular classrooms are the least expensive option to create more space on an overcrowded campus. These cost pennies on the dollar compared to a massive-scale construction project and will be just as high-quality and comfortable.

    Interested in learning more about portable or modular buildings for an overcrowded school? Contact Mobile Modular for portable classroom info.

    Ready to pursue modular classrooms as a solution to overcrowded classrooms but are still considering your payment options? We recommend reading Education Purchasing Cooperatives: Portable Classrooms Solve Space Issues In Schools.

    A 46% increase in enrollment created an immediate need for extra space at elementary schools in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mobile Modular quickly built new modular classrooms and building additions on time and within budget. Read more here.

    Overcrowded Classrooms Are Not an Option With Social Distancing in Schools

    ann arbor elementary

    Are schools more crowded than they used to be? School overcrowding is a trending idea, not necessarily because there are more students, but because social distancing is being required in schools.

    Social distancing is what is being most widely recommended for elementary schools, middle schools and high schools, as studies indicate that students learn best with in-person instruction. Especially for younger students, the important foundational education they are receiving sets them up for a lifetime of success in learning. Healthcare and public health experts alike realize that, while educational goals are important, so is halting
    the spread of COVID-19. Here are the CDC guidelines for
    social distancing in schools:

    • A developed protocol for monitoring local cases of COVID-19.
    • Testing and information-sharing systems for faculty and families.
    • Mitigation strategies: hygiene, healthy habits and “what to do” when someone does contract the virus.

    No More Overcrowded Schools

    An ideal solution for overcrowded classrooms will be one that can be quickly implemented, safely maintained and that will protect as many students as possible. Faculty and educators occupy an important role in our society and the education of children can never be compromised. Mobile Modular is proud to provide ongoing support and one of the most important services for overcrowded schools and overcrowded classrooms. Our high-quality portable classrooms can be fully customized and offer a permanent solution for overcrowding.

    Mobile Modular Has Your Portable Classroom Solution to Overcrowded Classrooms

    Wonder what is possible or what they look like? Tap here for info on modular classrooms from Mobile Modular or click to request a quote. Modular building construction and leasing is what we do, and classrooms are our specialty.

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