School Building Regulations & Guidelines
Building Codes & Regulations
The primary purpose of the design of Virginia's public school buildings is to protect and enhance the life, safety and welfare of the building's occupants. The design is governed by The Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code. The building code regulates everything from how many people can occupy a room to the number and placement of restrooms, fire walls and exit doors. Additional regulation is provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and others.
- State Building Codes & Regulations – from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) - Note that the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code regulates the general health, safety and welfare of building occupants and addresses life safety design issues, it does not offer design guidance to school planners and educators, see Guidelines, below.
- Revised ADA regulations will take effect March 15, 2011. Compliance with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010) is currently permitted but not required until March 15, 2012.
School divisions planning a school construction project are not legally bound to use the 2010 Standards until March 15, 2012. The ADA 1991 and UFAS standards are the only enforceable ADA accessibility design standards, until then. If construction on a project is going to begin after this date it is advisable that architects use the 2010 Standards when planning a construction project.
Guidelines for School Facilities
- Guidelines for School Facilities in Virginia's Public Schools (PDF) – provides detailed guidance to school planners, architects and educators for the planning and design of local public school facilities. (Revised September 2013)
Water Management Program to Prevent Legionella in Schools
As enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia in 2020: § 22.1-138 of the Code of Virginia states C. Each school board shall maintain a water management program for the prevention of Legionnaires' disease at each public-school building in the local school division. The attached document provides guidance and resources to school boards and their facility maintenance staff on how to establish, maintain, and validate a water management program to prevent Legionella pneumophila growth in public school buildings.
- Water Management Program Guidelines-This is a PDF document. – provides detailed guidance to local school boards to establish and maintain a water management program
School Safety Exit (Fire) Drills
The Code of Virginia section 22.1-137 states: “In every public school there shall be a fire drill at least twice during the first 20 school days of each school session, in order that pupils may be thoroughly practiced in such drills. Every public school shall hold at least two additional fire drills during the remainder of the school session.”
(Note: “school session” means school year)
- School Exit Drill Form-This is a PDF document. - provides schools with a form to access and maintain a record of a school drill
Words and terms used in school building project guidelines.