School Building Regulations & Guidelines

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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. 

    For additional technical assistance on provisions of the standards as they apply to new construction and alterations contact: U.S. Access Board, phone: 800-872-2253 or Email:

Guidelines for School Facilities

Student Parking on School Property

  • Standardized High School Parking Pass Application (PDF) - As required by § 22.1-205.1  of the Code of Virginia, any public high school student who applies to park a vehicle on school property must provide evidence that the student possesses a valid driver’s license or driver privilege card. It also requires that each public school utilize a standard application form, developed by the Virginia Department of Education, for students to use to obtain a pass to park a vehicle on school property.

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.

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 (PDF) - provides schools with a form to access and maintain a record of a school drill