Back to School and Noise Exposure

Soon those infamous orange buses will be strolling down the road, breaking to stop at your child’s pick up location in your neighborhood.   The kids are excited, their new backpacks are loaded with tools and utensils, the parents eager to get to work, or simply enjoy a quiet home for a couple of hours.   The weather breaks towards cool, the sun decides to settle earlier each day. A calm comfort settles over yourself as the seasons change.   But as you settle back into your routine, have you ever asked yourself about the noise exposure levels in the school building that your child is about to get dropped off at?

Decibel levels easily spike to discomfort in school buildings, thanks in large part to the hard reflective (cleanable) surfaces that comprise the classroom, the lunch room, the music room, the gymnasium, the auditorium, and the hallways.   As voices raise, echoes careen down the hallways, filling cavity spaces in the classrooms, raising havoc with the teachers and the students, the learning environment becomes compromised, but is there physical danger to your student’s hearing?   After all, hearing loss is not something that can be gained back.   Any hearing loss as a child is there for life.

Noise in school should not be ignored. Decibel levels can easily climb past 85 dBa, which if your child was a factory worker instead of a student, would require they wear hearing protection….but not so in the cafeteria.   Your child’s lunchroom will range between the low 70s and the upper 80s in terms of decibel level exposure, which can push exposure levels to more than just discomfort, but do permanent harm to the ear drum.   Again, you cannot restore lost hearing.

In addition to the physical threat to your student that harsh noise levels can deliver, there is also the threat to the learning environment.   If a student is unable to understand clarity to vocal instruction from their teacher, their learning curve will be compromised.   There is a direct correlation between loud classrooms and declining student performance.   Teachers take great care to provide a safe and healthy learning environment, but the noise levels are often ignored.   So is your child trapped in a series of noise infested rooms in your school?   Is the gym too loud?   Is the cafeteria too loud? How about those musical instruments in the band room?

Producing a positive sound management system for your child’s school does not have to be an overwhelmingly expensive experience for the principal, the school board, the teachers, or the parents.   It is quite often the case that a fun and entertaining fundraising program can be launched with the sole purpose to fund the purchase of a set of sound panels to be placed into the cafeteria, gym, music room or classroom settings.   Sound panels can be wall or ceiling mounted within each room, to collectively capture and convert the unwelcome echoes from the room, which will drop the background noise levels, lower crowd noise, and generate greater clarity to original sound….the teacher’s voice!

Sound panels are typically cloth wrapped sound boards that can capture and convert sound wave reverberations out of the room.   This is a process of converting sound wave energy to kinetic energy, which in turn, dissipates the echoes and restores each room to premium sound quality, and yes, hearing protection for the students.   The panels are class A fire rated, durable, decorative, available in a multitude of colors, and can even have school emblems, logos and images printed onto the face of the panels.   The panels can be flush mounted to perimeter wall or ceiling surfaces, or can “float” as clouds off the ceiling.   They can also be placed down on a wall and double as bulletin boards.

What it takes to properly sound insulate a learning space starts with an advocate inside the school, which can often be a concerned parent, a dedicated teacher, or a wise principal that understands the role that acoustics has in a learning environment.   The key to the success of any one sound panel treatment lies not in where the panels are placed inside the room, but in ensuring that the right amount of the acoustic panel is delivered to your doorstep.   The big mistake that can be made on these soundproofing treatments is if you under treat the space.   The answer to your coverage amounts is wholly determined based on how big your space is.   Simply feeding those dimensions to a quality sound panel supplier can unlock the mystery behind the quantities and costs associated with your project.

For more information on how sound panels can benefit your school, your child’s learning experience, and protect your child against hearing loss, contact NetWell Noise Control at 1-800-638-9355 or visit them online at www.controlnoise.com.   NetWell has been retrofitting school buildings with sound panel systems for more than a quarter century.   Their acoustic applications easily replicate over and over again for each new treatment they prescribe.

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