For decades, students approached the typical school shower with dread. Many people can recall trying to skip the showers only to be handed a towel and told to get in line — no exceptions.
Today, mandatory showers are mostly a thing of the past because of budget cuts and potential harassment lawsuits. Many students rarely, if ever, use showers in locker rooms. This has caused some schools to remove shower areas to make space for additional storage. Still, many new schools are required to install showers to meet building codes.
Some schools have a need for showers beyond students and their sports teams. Recreation facilities at many schools often are available for community use. Those users, as well as many students, can benefit from clean and well-designed locker facilities.
Upgrading school locker rooms can encourage more students to use showers. A school's goal should be to improve student hygiene by providing convenient and user-friendly facilities. Just as many professional sports teams have renovated their locker rooms to improve player morale and attract top talent, a school can upgrade its locker rooms to improve students' attitudes.
Privacy remains a primary concern for students and must be taken into account. Many kids have their own bedrooms and even bathrooms, so public washrooms and locker rooms need to offer some level of privacy. There is no standard way to tackle the privacy challenge, and for most schools, the available budget determines the scope of the solution.
On the higher end, individual showers with adjacent changing areas are common, such as in private high schools and universities. Although this level of privacy costs more, it may not be the expense that deters schools from going this route. Security is a concern, and most schools prefer to monitor students more closely.
A more common privacy option for middle and high school shower rooms is to use column showers or wall showers and partitions. Similar to toilet partitions, these “modesty modules” are short partitions built around a prefabricated shower fixture. These units give schools the flexibility to use vandal-resistant group shower fixtures, while offering users some privacy. The modules can be combined to create clusters of space-saving shower stations.
To ensure that showers are not left running, schools can install pushbutton metering valves. Electronic metering valves are reliable and can be set with a longer running time so that students are encouraged to shower completely, and are not frustrated by the water stopping after 15 seconds.
Installing pressure-balancing or thermostatic-mixing valves at each shower gives users control over the water temperature. These valves provide scald protection and thermoshock protection, and can withstand frequent use. Finally, choosing showerheads with a larger, more comfortable spray pattern can provide a more pleasant shower experience.