Social Distancing in the Midst of COVID-19
Mountain Vista High School
This directed case study is intended to give students insight into why social distancing is used to minimize the spread of infectious diseases. Students are provided with data from the state of Washington to determine whether there is a trend in transmission rates of COVID-19 in large populations and if population density is a driving force in disease spread. Students analyze population data, number of cases, and population density of ten counties. They also view the timeline of social distancing measures announced in the state, determine when the social distancing recommendation began, and observe how quickly the number of cases escalated. Students then compare Washington state data with New York state data to see how much quicker COVID-19 cases escalated in New York and how much faster social distancing measures were put into place. Students then turn their attention to Colorado to observe the exponential growth trend witnessed there. This case was designed for high school biology and AP biology students but could also be used in other courses that require students to analyze data. The case uses data as of March 2020, but could easily be updated with new data as the situation continues to develop.
- Use data to identify if population density or population size plays a role in the rate of disease spread.
- Explain the goals and recommendations of social distancing.
- Discuss the usefulness of models but emphasize that some models are not able to account for all variables associated with the actual scenario.
- Create a visual representation of data to answer scientific questions.
KeywordsSocial distancing; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; transmission rate; incubation period; outbreak; pandemic; quarantine; flatten;
Topical AreasPolicy issues, Social issues
Educational LevelMiddle school, High school
Type / MethodsAnalysis (Issues), Directed, Discussion
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Bioinformatics | Epidemiology | Public Health | Science (General) |
Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.
Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.