New tent on Scammon Garden to provide space for lunch, play


Elliott Taylor

Workers build the new tent on Scammon Garden. After its construction, the tent will have the potential to fit 50 students while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Noa Appelbaum, Content Manager

When hybrid learning begins next month, a tent being installed this week in Scammon Garden will protect students from the outdoors and provide additional space to eat lunch and run around while maintaining mandated social distance.

The 66-by-50-foot enclosure will have features such as glass front doors, ramps and carpeted flooring. According to Joe Wachowski, director of operations, the structure will be heated and use gas and electricity from Gordon Parks Arts Hall.

The Laboratory Schools has partnered with Marquee Rentals to install the building, although the space will look different from Marquee’s traditional tents with poles.

“This one’s an actual structure,” Mr. Wachowski said. “It has square tubing on the sidewalls and rafters on the ceiling to support long-term insulation.”

Workers clean the foundation of the new Scammon Garden tent (Elliott Taylor).

Mr. Wachowski said the tent is supposed to be a free area rather than to replace indoor classrooms. While specific details on how it will be used are still uncertain, the structure is currently constructed as a space for middle and likely high school students to eat lunch, play and engage with others. 

“It’s not that it’s any safer than an indoor space,” Mr. Wachowski said. “We just want kids to be able to have the opportunity to go outside, even if the weather is too cold or too wet, and not have to be cooped up indoors all the time.”

According to Mr. Wachowski, the tent can fit up to 50 students adhering to general social distancing guidelines, but only 48 students can eat lunch in the tent, as eating requires more space.

“We have the capability of putting 48 students out there for lunch, instead of being spread out over the building,” Mr. Wachowski said, “and kids can run around when it’s raining, which is another good aspect. I think the tent’s a great idea.”