COVID-19 & Health Equity Science Units

Elementary School Units

K-2 unit “What can we do to keep our community healthy?”

3-5 unit “How can we make decisions to care for ourselves, our families, and our communities?”

These units were developed in partnership with 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 COVID-19 pandemic is a clear example of how science and society are connected, and these units explore how different communities are impacted by the virus 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 will include 12-14 days of instruction with forty minutes of instruction/day. The materials will guide students and families through the following questions:

  • How have our lives changed because of COVID-19? 
  • Why have those changes happened? (Should they happen?) 
  • How can we care for ourselves, our families, and communities? 

Middle School Unit

The 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.

Over the course of the unit, students will study the COVID-19 pandemic in light of historical pandemics 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,
  • How the actions of individuals can help to end pandemics.

The unit also supports the development of two social emotional competencies: self awareness and social awareness.

The unit employs an inquiry-based approach and is designed for 15 class periods of instruction, with optional extensions. Because of its interdisciplinary nature, it is appropriate for use in middle school science, social studies, or health classes.

High School Science Unit

The high school unit, “What can we learn from the spread of the COVID-19 virus to protect our communities?” focuses on the science of infectious disease, transmission, and vaccines. Students will learn how COVID-19 impacts communities across the U.S. differently depending on factors that affect the spread of COVID-19. OpenSciEd developed these units in partnership with BSCS Science Learning and current classroom teachers from across the country. These materials can be appropriate for social studies and health courses. Epidemiologists, public health experts, equity and antiracist education experts, community groups, as well as social-emotional learning experts contributed to the material development.

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.