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Lesson Plans

Social justice and the coronavirus

April 2, 2020

Full Lesson



  1. Decide which video you would like to watch individually or in groups. All of the videos have to do with an issue of social justice. Watch the Incarcerated people face potential disaster during outbreak video above, or choose another video below.
  2. Read the news summaries, watch the video and answer the discussion questions.
  3. Report back your responses to the class. If you’d like, use the “CC” (closed-captions) function on Youtube or read along with the transcript.

Teacher’s note: Be sure to watch the video before sharing with your students. If you are making plans for distance learning, take a look at our list of PBS resources that covers a variety of subjects for middle and high school students. 

Asian Americans report rise in racist attacks amid pandemic (transcript)

As coronavirus has spread across the U.S., so have reports of violence against people of Asian descent, and the FBI warns of a potential surge in hate crimes. These fears have led to the creation of a website for reporting such attacks — and it has registered more than 1,000 incidents in less than two weeks.

Amid economic crisis, food banks are struggling to keep all the newly hungry fed (transcript)

With unemployment soaring, the COVID-19 outbreak is taking a staggering toll on workers. Food banks are ramping up services to meet the rising demand, even as donations, volunteers and supplies are limited. Meanwhile, organizations worry about keeping their own workers safe from the virus.

As more people order delivery, workers fear virus exposure (transcript)

Editor’s Note: Amazon disputes the claim that dozens of workers walked out in protest on Monday. According to Amazon, “15 people participated in the demonstration of which only 9 were Amazon associates—the rest were community organizers.” According to protest leaders, “Organizers on the ground counted 62 workers who walked off their jobs.”

More than 250 million Americans in 30 states have been asked or ordered to stay at home. Although some still buy essentials in person at stores, many are ordering online instead. As a result, warehouse and delivery workers and professional shoppers have become central to the current economy — and a growing number are concerned about the risks they face by doing their jobs.

Discussion questions:

  1. Essential question: What makes an issue a matter of social justice?
  2. Who was interviewed for the story? Who do you wish you had heard from?
  3. What are the injustices taking place in the news story?
    • How are they a matter of social injustice?
    • How does economic inequality factor into the story?
  4. What potential solutions to fight the injustice are offered? Do you have additional ideas for dealing with the problems described in the story?
  5. Media literacy: Look up two or three other news outlets on the same topic of the story you watched (New York Times, BuzzFeed, Fox News, The Young Turks, CNN). Did you find the story on the other news sites? Why do you think that was the case? What were the headlines? How was the article/video similar or different to the NewsHour’s segment?

Extension activities:

  1. Lesson plan: What is the role of civil disobedience today?
  2. Read NewsHour Classroom’s Student Voice: Students share what learning is like under COVID-19

For monthly updates containing teacher resources on Election 2020, click here. Sign up for short education highlights from the PBS NewsHour here.

To learn more about the coronavirus and how to get the support you need, read Coronavirus: Multilingual Resources for Schools by PBS WETA’s Colorin Colorado.