COVID-19 High School and College Student Curriculum - Start Here

Welcome! Please review this introduction to the high school/college materials.

Author: Jessica Laird, MS3 [1]

Faculty Reviewers: Ned Palmer, MD [2], Gene Beresin, MD [3], Ms. Livia Rizzo [4], Ms. Erin Martin [4]

Student Reviewers: Chandler Moore [1], Katie Kester [1], Kendall Carpenter [1], Priya Shah [1], Rachel Reardon [1]

[1] Harvard Medical School, [2] Boston Children’s Hospital, Division of Medical Critical Care, [3] Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, Child Psychiatry Service, [4] Teachers, Harvard Medical School MEDScience

Who is this curriculum for?

This curriculum is for high school and college students interested in learning more about COVID-19, science, medicine, and more! You don’t need any previous medical experience to work through this session -- just make your best guesses, use what you know, and you will do great.

How to use this lesson:

This lesson is a simulated patient case, where you will meet an imaginary patient coming into the hospital. You will go through the process of diagnosing and treating the patient like a doctor would. The case is meant to be interactive and includes quiz questions throughout to keep it interesting and make you think critically. We do not expect that you will know all the answers to these questions as they would be difficult for even many first year medical students. Just answer the questions to the best of your ability, and the correct answer with information on how to proceed will be revealed to you. More information on medical simulation and telehealth is included in the introduction. If you come across terms that are unfamiliar to you, jot them down on a piece of paper. They will likely be addressed later in the curriculum but if they are not, you can do a quick Google search to find the answer. The Case Part 1 introduces you to your simulated patient and has you begin the process of diagnosing and treating the patient. Then, there is a Learning Point lesson on the disease COPD. The Case Part 2 brings you back into the case of the simulated patient to complete the diagnosis and treatment. The Case Wrap Up does a deep dive into the patient’s disease and teaches you about the disease COVID-19. Finally, the section on Caring for Yourself and Others is meant to address another vital topic -- the social, psychological and emotional impact of the COVID-19 that you may be experiencing and how to build resilience and take care of yourself in this challenging time.

How long will this curriculum take?

This curriculum should take 2-3 hours to complete if you go through it completely. It is divided into sections so that you can split up completing the lessons over time.


Students who complete this lesson should:

  • Develop familiarity with the epidemiology, basic virology, presentation, and treatment for COVID-19

  • Understand the basic biology and features of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

  • Gain a general understanding of how medical teams care for patients with COVID-19

  • Learn the basics of ventilatory support for patients with respiratory failure

  • Understand the basic biology, features, and treatment of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)

  • Appreciate the emotional, social, and psychological toll of the COVID-19 pandemic and have an understanding of the skills and resources students can use to support themselves and others


At the end of simulation, students should be able to:

  • Discuss the appropriate use of different types of personal protective equipment

  • Describe how smoking damages the respiratory system and leads to COPD

  • Explain how novel viruses emerge and what features of a virus enable it to cause a pandemic

  • Describe the signs and symptoms of a patient with COVID-19 and what complications may emerge

  • Explain how ventilators and their various settings help patients breathe

  • Discuss the different public health strategies (quarantine, isolation, contact tracing, physical distancing, flattening the curve) to contain the spread of and reduce mortality from COVID-19

  • Name the emotional, social, and psychological impact that the COVID-19 pandemic may be taking on individuals, families, and communities

  • Describe positive coping skills and know of resources to help people get through the emotional, social, and psychological challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic

Are you interested in a medical student tutor?

COVID-19 Classes for Kids (CCFK), spearheaded by medical students at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is mobilizing health professions graduate students across the USA to teach these modules to children who are currently “sheltering in place” at home. If you or your child/student are interested in working through this curriculum with a medical student tutor, please fill out this form.

Table of Contents

Caring for Yourself and Others during COVID-19

Case Introduction: Simulation, Telehealth, and PPE

Case Part 1: The Man who Lost His Breath

Learning Point: What is COPD?

Case Part 2: The Iron Lung

Case Wrap Up: What Happened to the Man who Lost His Breath?

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