State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

How Educational Institutions Can Prepare for COVID-19

A worker disinfects a school in Bojnord, Iran
A worker disinfects a school in Bojnord, Iran. Photo: Peyman Hamidipoor

Are schools prepared for the COVID-19 onslaught? According to UNESCO, 49 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America have announced or implemented school and university closures. Twenty-nine countries have shut schools nationwide, impacting nearly 400 million children and youth. An additional 20 countries have implemented localized school closures to slow or contain the spread of the highly infectious and transmissible novel coronavirus.

Schools are scrambling to plan and organize themselves, with online classes, new curricula, webinars, packets of information and assignments sent home by teachers. Amid all the adjustments, however, educators also need to address an urgent challenge:

How should we be presenting information on the spread of COVID-19 to students and youth? What should teachers, students and staff know about coronavirus?

As of March 13, 2020, the strategy on the coronavirus has shifted from containment to mitigation, given its wide spread. Regardless of the status, appropriate knowledge dissemination is needed.

The Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University has curated a simple module to review information and tips. Here are the main messages:

  • Have correct information on what coronavirus is, and understand common myths;
  • Understand how it spreads, how to take preventive measures and recognize symptoms;
  • Be up-to-date on the stats in your region.

You can click through the full manual below:

Coronavirus ( COVID19 ) CSD ICT Center Global curriculum from HaeInShin2

More resources are available here and here.

A key need going forward is for communities of educators and experts to do their part spreading wise practices and information. Social media are playing a vital role.

Some excellent discussions under way on the role online tools and tech in fostering clarity and learning during the epidemic. A great starting point is the conversation around the hashtags #edtech and #remotelearning on Twitter. Here’s one example of the resources and insights that are discoverable through this portal, via Russ Curtis (@RussCurtis), the technology director for the Synergy School, a private school in San Francisco:


And, as Andy Revkin wrote in on the Earth Institute’s Sustain What blog yesterday, social media can help engage experts in infectious disease and public health with the school community. To see how, explore the Twitter conversation around the #skypeascientist hashtag or visit to learn more.

We hope you’ll share this post and use the comment thread here to identify other resources and build a solutions-focused conversation.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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R. Covey
R. Covey
4 years ago

It is too late to “prepare.” It is time to act and think about what comes next.