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FF. Construction, Renovation and Physical Conditions of School Buildings

1. General Guidelines

a) A planning committee shall be appointed prior to the beginning of the planning and design stages with equal representation from school board, teaching staff, school administration team, community stakeholders, curriculum planners, educational consultants, program specialists, architect and design consultants, and the Department of Education.

b) The school design and physical layout shall reflect:

  1. a positive work environment and working conditions for all school-based personnel and students;
  2. a positive school climate which fosters the growth and development of all students’ social and educational abilities, aptitudes, and personal characteristics;
  3. a modular and/or flexible structure which provides and promotes the importance of adequate personal and instructional space, while taking into consideration class size, the variety of teaching and learning techniques and styles, and the suggested strategies and recommended materials necessary for the implementation of curriculum programs recognized by the Department of Education.

c) Adequate time, resources, and supports shall be provided to a teaching staff, an administration team, and students to ensure that a physical move from one school site to another or from one classroom to another, as a result of ongoing renovations and/or the rearrangement of an existing school structure, is positive and uneventful.

2. Site Selection

a) Site selection must take into consideration and make accommodation for the following elements:

  1. the site is an integral part of the total school facility, plays an important role in the overall education of students, and should be considered to be part of the instructional space;
  2. the school is an integral part of the community and should, therefore, be located so that a mutual sharing of educational and other public facilities is possible;
  3. the site should contain sufficient space for parking, bus movement, recreation, future expansion, outdoor educational activities, and esthetic considerations in landscaping;
  4. the site should be located for easy access to municipal services and utilities, the centre of the population it is designed to serve and other facilities such as arenas, playing fields, libraries, etc.;
  5. the site should be reasonably level, well drained, and have soil conditions which are suitable for construction;
  6. the site should be free of and distant from such dangerous features as cliffs, excavations or water courses;
  7. the site should meet local zoning regulations;
  8. the school building should be designed at ground surface elevation in order to facilitate exiting in emergency situations and to facilitate accessibility for students with mobility impairments;
  9. the building should be located on the site taking into consideration sunlight orientation, prevailing wind conditions, and snow drifting;
  10. the site must have potable water available to it; and
  11. the site must be provided with or have access to an acceptable sewage disposal system.

3. Consultation Process

a) In reference to 1a) above, the planning committee shall:

  1. arrange consultation forums and provide sufficient opportunities for all community stakeholders to have input into the planning stage;
  2. arrange consultation meetings with the teaching staff, the administration team, and the support staff to obtain input and suggestions with respect to the functional and operational aspects of the school and school site;
  3. consult with other teacher representatives, school board officials, and support staff representatives who have experienced new school construction and/or renovations to seek advice relating to the functional and operational aspects of their facility; and
  4. meet, on a regular basis, to discuss concerns, seek solutions, and be updated on progress of the project.

4. Physical Design and Layout

a) The school building shall have a main entrance, with additional entrances strategically located throughout the structure. The number of entrances, and their locations, shall reflect the population and the age/grade level of the students attending the school.

b) The administration/main office shall:

  1. be strategically located at or near the main entrance to the building;
  2. be of adequate dimensions to address the demands and expectations of staff, students, and community; and
  3. have adequate storage and meeting space which is reflective of the administrative duties and responsibilities as they pertain to the overall functioning and operations of the school and the communities it serves.

c) The design, layout, and physical placement of classrooms and specialty rooms within a school shall:

  1. reflect the educational, social, behavioral, and physical needs of all children and teachers;
  2. provide for the physical separation of students, based on age and/or grade levels, where necessary;
  3. provide sufficient resources and space for teachers to engage in teaching strategies, styles, and techniques which are necessary to accommodate the modes of program delivery suggested in curriculum materials;
  4. provide teaching staff adequate space to engage in preparation and other work-related necessities;
  5. provide adequate “personal space” to both teachers and students, reflective of a positive teaching and learning environment;
  6. provide sufficient storage space and resources, reflective of the age, grade level, and curriculum expectations;
  7. reflect special provisions for programs such as music, art, drama, physical education, home economics, industrial technology, computer technology, etc.;
  8. provide adequate space and resources for a learning resource centre; and
  9. provide adequate natural lighting, whenever possible.

d) A school, to which students are bussed and/or required to stay for lunch, shall have a cafeteria. This room shall have adequate space and sufficient seating capacity to accommodate the number of students requesting such services.

e) The number, design, and physical placement of student washrooms and gymnasium change room facilities shall be reflective of the population and the age/grade level of the students attending the school.

f) Corridors and other spaces outside the regular classroom setting should be designed to foster student social interaction and inter-personal skill development.

g) Direct external access is recommended in school setting where the community is dependent on school facilities such as the gymnasium, learning resource centre, computer technology centre, etc. Consideration must also be given to the layout and placement of these rooms within the school.

h) Public washroom facilities shall be provided in all schools, in addition to the teacher and student washroom facilities.

5. Quality of Teacher Life

a) Work Area in Classrooms

  1. An adequate work area shall be provided in each classroom setting.
  2. Each work area shall be equipped with sufficient resources and storage space to enable the teacher to carry out their duties, responsibilities, and expectations.

b) Teacher Lounge

  1. All schools shall have a teacher lounge.
  2. The lounge should be strategically located in the building allowing for easy teacher access, as well as for teacher access to other educational materials, equipment, and resources.
  3. The lounge shall be equipped with the necessary kitchen facilities and other amenities.
  4. The lounge shall have a seating capacity capable of accommodating the entire staff population.

c) Staff Washroom Facilities

All schools shall provide both male and female washroom facilities specifically for staff members.

6. Quality of Student Life

a) Social Interaction and Interpersonal Skill Development

  1. Sufficient space shall be provided in all classroom and specialty room settings to encourage student social interaction and interpersonal skill development.
  2. Adequate space shall be provided throughout the school to enhance student social interaction and interpersonal skill development.

b) Health and Personal Hygiene

  1. Students shall be permitted to eat lunch only in a cafeteria.

c) Commuting Distance to an Assigned School

  1. A student living greater than a 1.5 kilometre distance from their assigned school shall be provides bus transportation.
  2. No student shall be required to travel by bus transportation more than 30 kilometres in order to reach their assigned school.

d) Renovations Ongoing During the School Year

  1. Renovations to an existing school building shall not occur during the instructional day.
  2. The school board shall ensure that renovation work which occurs within the school year, but outside the instructional day, will not affect the air quality in the school building and/or disrupt any aspect of student activity or classroom instruction. [Aug/23/00] [JC Oct/00] [2001 BGM]

7. Health and Safety

a) The physical condition of every school should be maintained to protect the health and safety of all teachers and students. [Jan/8-9/99] [1999 BGM] [Feb/21-23/07] [2007 BGM]


  1. All schools and school board offices shall establish an Occupational Health and Safety Committee or a Worker Health and Safety Representative in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations during the first 30 days of the school year.
  2. Where school boards establish a district Occupational Health and Safety Coordinating Committee, NLTA representatives on such committees shall be appointed by the President. [Jan/16/04] [JC Feb 04] [2005 BGM] [Feb/21-23/07] [2007 BGM]


  1. All school boards shall implement and abide by the applicable provisions of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act and Regulations.
  2. All NLTA members shall abide by the applicable provisions of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act and Regulations.
  3. Any teacher who loses time due to a work-related injury shall notify the NLTA as soon as possible and complete the appropriate NLTA Teacher’s Report of Accident/Injury form. [Jan/16/04] [JC Feb 04] [2005 BGM] [Feb/21-23/07] [2007 BGM] 

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