Answering the Call: EnviroAtlas Team Supports Teachers and Educators during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

EPA’s response during the COVID-19 pandemic has been broad—ranging from developing an approach for monitoring the virus in wastewater to finding the best approaches for cleaning and disinfection. EPA is also assisting in an unexpected way: helping educators quickly adjust to teaching in the virtual environment.

EPA’s EnviroAtlas team is no stranger to environmental education. Over the past four years they have worked to create educational lesson plans that help K-12 and higher-ed educators incorporate EPA science into their curricula. Starting with the 2016 Building a Greenway Case Study, to the suite of ecosystem services mini-lessons published in early 2020, EnviroAtlas lesson plans on ecosystems, mapping, watersheds, and eco-health connections are aligned with state and Next Generation Science Standards and give students the opportunity to engage with real science, data, and maps from EPA.

As the reality of COVID-19 set in, the need for online-based resources surged. The EnviroAtlas team worked with EPA regions and programs, teachers, and education-focused organizations to not only get educators up to speed on EPA’s existing online educational resources, but also to adapt lesson plans for complete virtual use to meet the new demand. One such partnership came from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, who hosted a virtual summer course for educators called, “A Right to Nature in the City: The Importance of Urban Environmental Education” that explored an investigation of how natural systems can help communities and schools create change for a greener, more equitable future. The EnviroAtlas team partnered with members of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice to include environmental justice considerations in their Greenway Case Study educational activity and convert it into a fully virtual format.

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