Shade Planning for Schools

45 Shade Planning for America’s Schools Chapter 6 Behavioral Observations The next step in conducting a shade audit involves observation of students, teachers, staff, and visitors on school grounds. Visits to school grounds after hours and on weekends will be necessary to confirm non-school–related activities that might be affected by the shade plan. Information collected in the interview process should guide the behavioral observations. Observers will want to document the types of activities, their locations, the number of individuals who participate in each activity, and the duration of the activity. Once again, it will be helpful for observers to make notes regarding all activities on a site plan. Participants in this process should model good sun-protective behaviors by wearing sunglasses, hats, and long-sleeved shirts. Observations should be made on several occasions to capture the many activities that occur on school grounds and, as much as possible, observations should be made unobtrusively. Observers should note whether activities are occurring in a particular location because no other area will accommodate that activity, or if there are other locations where the activity could take place, particularly a shaded area. Once again, upon completion of this step, the planning team should meet to discuss findings. If there are discrepancies between the information collected in the interview process and the behavioral observations, the team should note the discrepancies and seek clarification. Environmental Observations Other visits to the site will need to be planned to take measurements on school grounds without interfering with the day-to-day activities of the school. On these visits, having an accurate site plan will be essential. If none is available, the planning team will need to draw a freehand plan of the site, taking careful measurements of the buildings and recording the location and size of each. The site plan should indicate the boundaries of the school’s property, which direction is north, and indicate if it is magnetic or true north, since there is an appreciable difference between the two. Determining true north will be important to ensure that shade is cast in the right place, at the right time of day, throughout the year. (See text box on page 22 of this manual.) It may also be important to mark the locations of important features outside of the school boundaries, such as the location of neighboring homes or businesses and any buildings not on school property that cast shadows or reflect solar radiation onto the school grounds. Once at the site, the planning team should number the site plan with all buildings and play equipment on the school grounds, recording the distances between features. The planning team will need to estimate the height of each of the buildings on the school grounds and record it on a separate set of notes, along with other characteristics of the building. Attachment A is an example of a building description sheet. It may be helpful to name areas or zones of the site if they do not already have a name. Zones can be named according to their use, such as “queuing area” or “passive play area.” It is also important to document any significant topographical features, such as low spots, slopes, or ravines, because they will influence decisions on which shade strategies are most appropriate.