Where do they come up with these numbers? And, actually, who are “they?” There must be a profession out there with which I am not familiar (I’m teaching grammar this year and watching my with whiches and with whoms). Hmmmm…Numerical Engineers? Occupancy Engineers? Fire Code Engineers? This sign was outside of a restaurant. 343 people. Tops. But how is this number calculated? Do 2 skinny people = 1 occupant? Conversely, does 1 obese person take up 2 slots? What about babies? Do they count? All of these questions made me think about my classroom.

How many students will fit in your classroom? Maximum. Include age group, space available and take optimal space for academic performance into consideration. If you teach ESL or Special Ed kids, factor that element in as well. Let’s see. I come up with *MAXIMUM OCCUPANCY 18.*

How did I figure that out? I more or less pulled it out of thin air. Not really. I teach high school ESL students. Small classes can be a horror. Picture 5 quiet teenagers staring at you and each other for 42 minutes. And asking to go to the bathroom. “And then there were 4.” But having 32 students of that same age and level is definitely in the uh-oh-someone-might-fall-between-the-cracks range. So 18 seems to be a perfect number. I think I’ll get a brass plaque engraved.

**18**

*MAXIMUM OCCUPANCY*

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## About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...

There are “occupant load factors” in the building code. Each is based on the use of the space, whether people are seated or standing, etc. You divide the square feet of the space by the appropriate load factor to come up with how many people can safely occupy the room based on what they will be doing in the space. The resulting number is used to determine the size and number of exit corridors, exit doors, stairs, etc. The load factors are developed by building code and fire code officials. The numbers were developed a long time ago by observing crowded rooms and measuring them. Architects and interior designers use the factors when designing spaces and the plan checkers validate the math and exiting.

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Thank you for that information. I knew it wasn’t random, but to the lay person, it can seem that way. 😃

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