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COVID-19 & Health Equity Units

How can people help end pandemics? Educators and students across the country are currently investigating important questions like this in the classroom (in-person and online!) while navigating COVID-19 in their own daily lives.

OpenSciEd  released updated COVID-19 & Health Equity Units for high school science and grades K-5 that are free to educators. A middle school unit is also available with an updated release planned for summer 2021.

High School Science Unit (Newest Release!)

Workers wearing a cloth mask

The high school unit focuses on the question, "What can we learn from the spread of the COVID-19 virus to protect our communities? " It is designed to teach students about the COVID-19 pandemic, transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and the impacts of the pandemic on communities, especially communities of color.

The unit employs an inquiry-based approach, and is designed for 14 class periods of instruction, with several optional extensions. There are four broad areas of learning goals targeted in this unit:

  • virus transmission between people and communities,
  • mitigation strategies and using probabilities to explain how we can lower the chance of transmitting the virus between people and across communities,
  • understanding disproportionate impacts on communities and the policies and practices that lead to those impacts, and finally,
  • development of two social emotional competencies--self awareness and social awareness.

The high school science unit was developed in a partnership between BSCS Science Learning and current classroom teachers from across the country. Epidemiologists, public health experts, equity and antiracist education experts, community groups, as well as social-emotional learning experts contributed to the material development.

BSCS conducted a field test and obtained reviews of the unit in the fall of 2020, and revised the materials for official release in spring 2021.

Middle School Science Unit (Under Revision)

workers boarding a train

The middle school unit focuses on the question, "How can people help end pandemics?" It is designed to teach students about the COVID-19 pandemic, transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and the impacts of the pandemic on communities.

The unit employs an inquiry-based approach and is designed for 15 class periods of instruction, with optional extensions. Students will study the COVID-19 pandemic in light of historical pandemics to develop two social emotional competencies, self awareness and social awareness, and to build an understanding of the following key concepts:

  • how the COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person and through communities,
  • how strategies to reduce transmission of COVID-19 work, and
  • how the actions of individuals can help to end pandemics.

The middle school science unit was developed in a partnership between BSCS Science Learning and current classroom teachers from across the country. Epidemiologists, public health experts, equity and antiracist education experts, community groups, as well as social-emotional learning experts contributed to the material development.

BSCS conducted a field test and obtained reviews in the spring of 2021, and are currently revising the materials for official release in the summer of 2021.

Elementary School Units

young girl washing her hands with her dad
children standing beside eachother wearing mask

The K-2 unit, "What can we do to keep our community healthy?", and the 3-5 unit, "How can we make decisions to care for ourselves, our families, and our communities?", explore how different communities are impacted by COVID-19 through the lens of historical inequities in society. These multidisciplinary units include integrated social-emotional learning and supports for teachers and families in addressing these emotional topics.

These ready-to-use materials include 13 days of instruction with thirty minutes of instruction/day for the K-2 unit and 21 days of instruction with forty minutes per day in the 3-5 unit. The materials guide students and families in exploring the following key questions:

  • How have our lives changed because of COVID-19?
  • How does the COVID-19 virus spread and how can we prevent that?
  • How do inequities impact whether people can make decisions to stay safer from the virus?
  • How can we take action to care for ourselves, our families, and our communities?

The elementary school units were developed in a partnership among NextGen Science Storylines  (at Northwestern University), Learning in Places  (at Northwestern University and University of Washington), and current classroom teachers from across the country.

The developers conducted a field test and obtained reviews in the winter of 2020, and revised the materials for official release in spring 2021.

Funding for the COVID-19 & Health Equity Units was provided by a generous donor, who prefers to remain anonymous.

Questions?

For more information, please contact Lindsey Mohan.