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August 27, 2020

Modular classrooms are a quick study in filling vital needs

  • The classrooms are relocatable and come in many sizes.
    Special to the Journal


    In the fall of 2019, about 56.6 million students attended elementary, middle and high schools in the United States. The need for efficient, modern and safe teaching spaces is growing at a staggering rate.

    To cater to the yearly increase in student strength, some schools have constructed new buildings and classrooms, but even making minor changes to traditionally built classrooms is a tedious and time-consuming task. A construction site is no safe space for children, and schools cannot pause classes in the middle of the school year to construct the classrooms and facilities students require.

    Modular classrooms are an effective solution to this pressing matter; they are flexible, budget-friendly, and can be constructed quickly. They might just be the one-fits-all solution that schools can adopt to provide students with an environment that makes learning easy.

    Why portable classrooms?

    Photo courtesy of Mobile Modular [enlarge]
    Portable classrooms are a cost-effective way to accommodate long-term and temporary classroom overcrowding problems.

    Regardless of public, private or charter schools, portable classrooms are a cost-effective way to accommodate long-term and temporary classroom overcrowding problems. Schools can rent or purchase state-of-the-art prefab classrooms, depending on their requirements.

    Private schools can smartly maneuver tight budgets and preserve working capital for other investments by opting for modular classrooms. For those few private schools that aren’t bogged down by tight budgets, portable classrooms can be equipped with endless upgrades that are affordable and of high quality.

    For charter schools that are growing quickly or require large capital expenditure, temporary modular buildings are the ideal solution. They are relocatable and come in many different sizes so that charter schools can get exactly what they need and are not tied down by limitations on the amount of classroom or office space.


    Portable classrooms can solve these school problems:

    • Due to shifting demographics and other factors, predicting the number of enrollments has become difficult for schools. The fluctuating enrollment demands for flexible classroom sizes and modular classrooms provide this flexibility. Renting modular classrooms is a quick fix for an unexpected intake of students to preventing overcrowding. To solve the immediate school needs, an alternative cost-effective and time-saving solution is to buy portable classrooms. Various modular construction companies, such as Mobile Modular, provide a list of classrooms on sale to choose from.

    • Summer vacation is the only time schools can carry out any heavy renovation or construction. This limited renovation time is often not enough for schools to get prepared for the next academic year. By going modular, schools don’t have to wait until summer and can renovate while simultaneously running classes.

    • Schools don’t have the financial firepower to invest in traditional construction practices due to tight budgets. Schools can get fully equipped classrooms without having to pay the full price by leasing or buying portable classrooms.

    Schools in Palm Beach

    The School District of Palm Beach County in Florida is a great example of how modular classrooms have saved the day. Palm Beach County is the 10th largest district in America and the fifth largest in Florida. It successfully serves a student population of 193,000 along with 12,800 teachers. To keep its promise for a well-rounded education, the district had to completely modernize the outdated Verde and Addison Mizner elementary schools. These schools were relocated to a temporary campus for two years to prevent the disruption of education. In the meantime, the existing facilities were demolished and replaced.

    Mobile Modular delivered and installed all 78 buildings in six months and created a learning environment that aligns with student empowerment and growth. Mobile Modular’s temporary classrooms helped the schools of Palm Beach County deal with the following problems:

    • Interruption of classes. Since most of the modular construction work is carried out in a factory, and only the assembly happens on-site, fewer workers and machinery are required at the school premises. Hence, the schools were able to run classes even when other modular classrooms were being set up — while students and staff were not exposed to the harmful residues of a traditional construction site.

    • Budget constraints. Modular construction is twice as quick as traditional construction; this decreased time frame means the schools were able to save significantly on labor costs, material cost and time.

    • Construction hazards. With children running around, all construction and equipment operations need to follow certain safety standards. Modular classrooms come with built-in safety features and incorporate additional protection measures, as requested by the school. Mobile Modular provides steel-clad exterior doors, self-closers, panic hardware, and a solid core, fire-rated classroom door with a large window and locking system to ensure the safety of students. Doors can be equipped with an optional alarm and electronic entry control, and can be easily integrated with the primary security system.

    • Overcrowding of classrooms. Temporary classrooms provided a safe learning space for thousands of students and teachers. Spaces can be expanded in no time! Portable classrooms come in a wide range of sizes and can be customized according to specific requirements. Schools also have an option to buy classrooms from the modular construction companies that fits their needs and budgets.

    • Quality issues. Since construction takes place in a controlled environment, each component is built to a specific tolerance. As the same process is repeated for each component, the margin for error is less compared to traditional construction methods. Along with superior quality, modular classrooms are also environmentally friendly.

    COVID-19 era

    Social distancing has become the new normal in all aspects of life. Once schools reopen, they need to be prepared to offer students enough space to move around without breaking social distancing norms and follow other public health instructions. Temporary or permanent additional space requirements can be fulfilled by modular units that offer the flexibility to meet various health standards.

    Schools can place desks at least 6 feet apart, increase administrative space, and make room for a nurse’s office or on-campus triage and testing clinics by opting for a modular solution. Modular classrooms are built quickly and delivered to the campus, decreasing the time and increasing savings. This is a huge benefit for school districts that are held back by strict budgets due to COVID-19.

    Modular adapts

    Schools are meant to be versatile; they must adapt to accommodate the growing student population and requirements. Traditional construction practices are rigid and don’t allow schools the flexibility they need to match the fast-paced changes that are taking place. By choosing to go modular, especially during a pandemic, schools can take advantage of shorter construction times, customization options, energy efficiency, less disruption, and greater flexibility to make sure students get a good learning environment.

    Amanda Wilson is a freelance writer covering education and higher learning sectors.

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