Northwest Vista College using pop up outdoor classrooms to help keep students safe

There are some benefits to taking classrooms outside

SAN ANTONIO – Early research suggests that being outside is safer from COVID-19 than being indoors.

“It doesn’t travel as far, and it doesn’t live on surfaces as long,” Fred Rodriguez, the Director of Education with Workplace Resource said.

“The air circulation is huge,” Rodriguez said.

That is why campuses like Alamo College’s Northwest Vista College has transformed several of its spaces outside for when students come back to campus in the spring.

“These kind of pop up classes give us really an expanded space and afford the teachers another venue to teach,” Rick Baser, the president of Northwest Vista College said.

Instead of creating new spaces, they are just utilizing what they already have on campus. An area by the water is now where students can have a pop up lecture as well as enjoy the view.

The college had already been working on taking advantage of its outdoor spaces before the pandemic struck. Rodriguez said research has shown the levels of productivity and engagement go up while students learn outside.


“We didn’t expect the engagement to be so high,” Rodriguez said. “How often were you to ask a question, how often you were to move the furniture, how it reflected the sense of community with you and regards to the institution you were at and our data was off the charts.”

“It gives us a place for students to congregate in between classes, and it also allows them to stay engaged,” Baser said. “Our students who are engaged on campus, engaged in our student life programs -- they stay, they are retained and they graduate.”

Most importantly, Rodriguez said research found that being outside is just better for students overall mental health.

“By being outside it fosters that creativity, we have this we are not bored,” he said. “We just feel better. We are in a better mood. We just learn better.”

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