I Dreamed That I… written for the Playhouse on the Square Digital Play Festival
Library Volunteers: A Practical Guide for Librarians published by Rowman & Littlefield
Teen Literacies Toolkit for Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)
Writing Sample: Shade Sails for Outdoor Learning Spaces
Schools across the country are trying to figure out the safest way to reopen their doors for students this fall. In addition to covid health screening precautions, many school buildings are discovering that they need more space to properly adhere to the 6 feet required for social distancing. With the first day fast approaching, school officials are finding they don’t have time to build a new structure. Regardless of school size, one ideal solution is to take advantage of any outdoor space. Learning outside depends on the school’s geographical location, because high temperatures or bad weather will keep even the most focused students from being able to do good work outside. Adding shade sails to the school grounds will solve the problem of usable outdoor spaces for students.
Shade sails come in two different material options: high-density polyethylene (HDPE) treated for UV protection, or waterproof HDPE. Depending on if the school grounds just need shade, or also need protection from rain and snow, there are several possibilities.
Shade sails come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Rectangle sails measuring 8’x12’ start at $39.99, and triangle sails measuring 12’x12’x12’ are only $29.99. Even custom sizes are available! When priced next to building an outdoor structure, there’s no competition!
A previous solution to any outdoor space problem has been tailgating tents, but there’s no match for shade sails. Tailgating tents aren’t sturdy; they blow in the breeze and won’t last if they’re left out in bad weather. Faculty won’t have time in their already-busy day to erect and take down a tailgating tent each time they need to take their class outside.
Shade sails, on the other hand, are made of thick 190 GSM HDPE material, making them sturdy without requiring maintenance. Seams are double layered and reinforced to prevent fraying. Stainless steel D-rings are attached to each corner of the shade, and hardware kits can be purchased to ensure the shade will effectively provide shade and a cool space for outdoor learning.
Instead of flimsy tents popping up all over the school grounds, shade sails are made of attractive, sturdy fabrics that can either add elements of visual appeal to the school grounds, or simply blend into the surroundings. Color choices that can camouflage into the natural grounds include beige, brown, grey, black, and green. Eye catching colors to spotlight the new outdoor learning spaces include red, turquoise, white, and blue. Consider building team spirit by picking shade sails in school colors!
Shade sails can be attached to existing poles, trees, fences, or walls with cable ropes from the hardware kit. It is also possible to add posts around the grounds, once it is determined where the shade sails will be most effective. These simple elements needed to install the shade sail can blend in with the surroundings and be made to fit with the school’s overall aesthetic so the shade sails will fit right in with the campus.
All shade sail materials have been treated with a UV stabilized compound, which blocks 95% of harmful UV rays – something school administration and parents alike will be grateful for! This material reduces the temperature of the shaded areas, so students and teachers will be able to work in comfort. The UV treatment also prevents the sail from drying out, tearing, and fading, so they will provide comfort and shade for years – and this is on top of the 3 year normal weather warranty!
Waterproof shade sails are made of 220 GSM HDPE; in addition to guaranteeing that no water will seep through the sail, this option also promises 95% shade coverage and 95% UV protection! Waterproof sails give teachers the option of safely taking their students outside even if it is raining!
Easy to Install
Instead of having to consult architects, fire marshals, and city officials to get guidance on constructing an outdoor building or pavilion, shade sails are quick and easy to install, and most likely won’t require any approval from city ordinance. If the campus already has trees, posts, fences, or walls, shade sails can easily be attached to those structures. If the grounds are relatively clear, it is not much work to add a few posts throughout the space, and then attach the shade sails to those.
Shade sails are sold with the stainless steel D-rings already added to each corner. An optional hardware kit will ensure that installation is quick and simple. Every piece of hardware is made of stainless steel and comes with a lifetime guarantee! Twenty-four pieces, including hooks and screws, will help install the shade sail to any fence, wall, post, or tree on campus. Cable ropes are also available if it is necessary to give a little extra space between the posts and the corners of the sail.
The upside of using shade sails for outdoor learning spaces is that their effectiveness is not limited to this academic year. Yes, having safe, cool, shaded outdoor learning spaces is necessary when considering social distance guidelines for covid, but once the shade sails are installed, they will last for years! Students and teachers can still enjoy shaded outdoor areas on the other side of the pandemic, and the materials are under warranty for three years. Once the campus is outfitted with these sails, the entire school community will realize what a luxury it is to have cool, shaded outdoor areas! Students can enjoy lunch outside, school events can be hosted in the shade – the possibilities are endless!
Pro Tip: While shopping for shade sails for outdoor learning spaces, consider adding a floor of artificial turf so students won’t have to worry about getting soggy shoes or tracking mud back into the school building!