If (When?) Coronavirus Attacks Your School

UPDATE: This blog post was written at the beginning of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. Obviously, things have changed and many of us need lesson plans beyond just two weeks. If your school has been closed indefinitely, I hope this bundle of 12 free emergency distance learning activities is helpful. Take care of yourself, your family, and your students. Love you! Laura

Brace yourself. It’s coming. If it’s not already in your emailbox, it’ll be here soon – a message from your principal requiring two weeks’ worth of lesson plans that can be accessed remotely in case your school closes as part of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak.

Whether the virus actually shows up on your campus or not, it’s important we all stay calm. I’m the first to acknowledge that it’s annoying to write lesson plans you might not ever use, but it’s also wise and really shouldn’t take too long to pull together. If the ick hits the fan, you’ll be glad you have a plan.

My COVID-19 action plan/lesson plans:

First, I’d press the pause button on any work of literature or unit plan currently underway. If school does close, that’d be an emergency situation and I’ve decided to write just one set of lesson plans that will universally build skills in all of my classes, grades 9-12. If you want to write customized two-week plans for each of your preps based on your current curriculum calendar, go for it. I don’t have that kind of time and since we can’t know when a closure might occur, I’m thinking it’s best if these lesson plans are evergreen. Treat it like the mother of all snow days.

Next, not every student in my world has internet access at home, so the materials need to be able to be not only posted on our password-protected websites or sent as email attachments to the parent contact list, but also gathered into a photocopied packet that folks can pick up from the front office. Yeah, that’s a pain, but it’s what’ll need to happen to ensure equitable access. If you’re in a district where all kids have reliable internet at home, you might enjoy this growing list of free and reduced-cost teaching software/apps gathered by Tech4Teaching.org’s Tami Brass. I love the remote learning possibilities presented by that list, but I personally haven’t had the tech tools or training time to make good use of those kinds of resources.

Instead, I built a two-week no-tech-needed calendar:


Notes and links

Week 1 – Focused on non-fiction

Monday: Students will need to choose a current event article (toilet paper hoarding, anyone?), news program, or newspaper article and fill out the “What’s Up in the World?” grid organizer worksheet. If media resources are especially scarce for your students, you could choose an article for them and make copies to include in their homestudy packets.

Tuesday: Students will examine real-world rhetoric materials on the topic of whether we should kill spiders we find in our homes and answer a set of questions.

Wednesday: Today, they’ll examine another real-world rhetoric lesson focusing this time on whether parents who shame their children on social media are doing more harm than good.

Thursday: Examine one last real-world rhetoric text on the idea of using a lottery system to determine whether which students are admitted to select colleges. Note: When school resumes, I’ll choose one of these three real-world rhetoric lessons to turn into a topic for an in-class essay. Following the same essay structure that’s used on the S.A.T. (click here for more info on that essay format), students will need to examine the rhetorical text and complete this writing assignment:


Students will be allowed to use the original published text, the list of questions I asked, and their homework answers as they write their in-class essay during one 50-minute class period. I’ll grade those essays with this rubric:


Friday: All year long, my kids read SSR books every Friday and I’ll continue this routine during their homestudy time. Students should already have a book they’re reading and, if not, they’ll need to find a new book. It’s unlikely that I would change their SSR Book Talk deadline since this is an assignment they can complete pretty much anywhere. For an extra bit of accountability, students will also need to complete a “Whose Phone is This?” worksheet based on any character from their SSR book.

Week 2 – Focused on literature

Monday: If kids already have their school-issued literature anthologies at home, I’ll have them choose any short story in that textbook that we haven’t yet read. If they don’t have their anthologies, I’ll pick a story and make photocopies of the text to add to the homestudy packets. Students will be assigned to read the story and then complete three of the choice board activities on this worksheet.

Tuesday: Students’ understanding of the three types of irony (situational, verbal, and dramatic) will be reinforced with a close reading and analysis of Saki’s short story, “The Storyteller.”

Wednesday: We’ll take a look at another high-interest short story with a study of Horacio Quiroga’s “The Feather Pillow” paired with an informational article about sleep paralysis.

Thursday: In today’s Words to Live By lesson, students will analyze how a similar theme is developed in three different mediums by digging into Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If,” Polonius’ advice to his son in a brief monologue from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and a newspaper columnist’s Guide to Life that went viral in the late 1990s. (Remember that whole “Wear Sunscreen” thing?) Then, they’ll close this day’s lesson with their own creative writing assignment.

Friday: Just like last week, we’ll wrap with another 30-minute SSR session. This time, I’ll have kids choose a different character from their novels and complete the “Direct/Indirect Characterization” worksheet.

Lesson plans = Done!

Please remember that any of my materials that you download from TeachersPayTeachers.com, whether free or paid, are my copyrighted property and licensed only for you to share with your direct students. If other teachers want to use these same plans, they will need to purchase the appropriate number of licenses, one per teacher. Also, none of my materials are allowed to be shared online via open access or forums. Posting of my copyrighted materials may happen only in a password-protected environment intended to be accessed solely by your direct students, such as Google Classroom or Edmodo. Posting on public websites (WordPress, Blogger, Wix, Facebook Groups, etc.) is prohibited. You know, I work hard on this stuff. Be cool.

Bleach on, everyone!

Image credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, WikiMedia Commons, Public domain

31 thoughts on “If (When?) Coronavirus Attacks Your School

  1. Lynnly Sainsbury says:


    You continue to amaze me with your dedication to supporting teachers! Thank you, again, for the resources that offer fabulous content in a beautiful format! This virus offers a great opportunity to acknowledge the deadliness of misleading and misinforming the populace!

  2. Thanks, Lynnly, but I’m just using my skill set to help ease other folks’ workload. I’m also trying to approach this whole virus thing as one large teachable moment. Glad you’re here with me.

  3. Bob LePauloue says:

    I’m speechless… Thank you so much for this great resource and restoring (a bit… haha.) my faith in humanity 🙂 This is so nice of you!!

  4. Awesome resource. I’ve also seen this as a teaching moment. Thanks for an easy solution in case we need it. 🙂

  5. Appreciate the notes of support, Bob and Mrs. Willes! I’d high-five you both, but, well…you know. 🙂

  6. Think I may just create a printed packet for those Disney vacations as well. Thank you for a GREAT idea and inspiration!

  7. Heck yeah, mstee1220! I already sent a bundle of these items to a friend who’s been wavering about taking early maternity leave. Really, this stuff can work for any “emergency.” 😉

  8. Can you make a plan for more than 2 weeks? 🙂
    Seems like this might last a little longer than I thought!

  9. Same thing over here, Idris. I’m scrambling to figure out the plan beyond March. We obviously don’t how long the school closures are going to last, but some folks around here suspect the school district will cancel all on-campus activities through the end of the year. That’s TWO MONTHS! Without tech in their homes, I don’t know how our kids are going to access everything. I’ll try to pull another blog post together soon with updated info, but until then you might find some useful ideas/links in this older post I wrote about emergency sub plans: https://laurarandazzo.com/2019/01/19/when-youve-lost-the-battle/
    Some of those items, though, are built around kids having access to podcasts and YouTube, so I know they’re not all a perfect match for no-tech homestudy. I also have some four-week unit plans already available. Maybe some of these will work?
    Poetry: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/High-School-Poetry-Unit-4-Weeks-Print-Teach-Lit-Analysis-Multimedia-CCSS-1303263
    Classic short stories: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Short-Story-Unit-Plan-4-Weeks-of-Dynamic-Lessons-on-Classic-Short-Stories-CCSS-717853
    Greek mythology: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/GREEK-MYTHOLOGY-Unit-Plan-for-Teens-Five-Week-Myth-Unit-CCSS-614377
    Thanks again for checking in with me. Glad I can be here for folks as we all try to figure out this new path. Stay safe!

    UPDATE: I just posted a free 12-pack of distance learning materials that should help. Stay safe!

  10. Darby Hart says:

    Somehow I just knew if I checked out your webpage you would have amazing materials and ideas to share. And I am NOT disappointed. Our staff is meeting tomorrow to begin planning for distance learning for our students and I am so happy to know I can, once again, use quality materials from you to keep my students engaged in this stressful time. THANK YOU just doesn’t seem to be enough. Please know you are truly appreciated.

  11. Thanks, Darby, for the note of encouragement in this ridiculously stressful time. You know I’ve always got your back. Let’s do this thing!

  12. Sara Ruhl says:

    Thanks for considering other teachers and students during this time of crisis.

  13. For sure, Sara. We’re all just doing the best we can right now. Stay safe! L

  14. Jennifer Cadden says:

    I haven’t slept much the past two nights wondering how this whole distance learning thing will work. Your two week plan is a life saver. Thank you for your generosity.

  15. Rest easy, Jennifer. We’ll all just figuring this stuff out as we go. I know it’s hard, but try not to let uncertainty steal your valuable sleep.
    It all really will be okay and we need you healthy and whole! 🙂

  16. thank you!!!!! Valerie C Meyer *English Dept.* *Brennan High School*

  17. You’re absolutely amazing. Enough said. ❤ Stay safe, my friend! Thank you so much!!

  18. Thanks, tarafarah7! Take care of yourself, your family, and your students. All is well over here. 🙂

  19. Janice P McLaughlin says:

    I have been following for years and “borrowing” ideas. Thanks for your dedication and support! Our school just closed for the year, and while I have some idea of how things will go in the near future, I am glad to have your plan as a got to after we finish our novel unit. Stay healthy and safe!
    Jan in Virginia

  20. My pleasure, Jan. I want to be surprised that you’re already closed up for the year, but I’m not. I suspect more states will be making that announcement soon. Glad you’ll have these plans on the back-burner – just in case.
    Let’s both stay safe and sane! 🙂

  21. Jennett Lockrow says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve cried many tears trying to find the best way to help my students during this crisis. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the resources you have made available to teachers. You are wonderful! Jennett

  22. Rest easy, Jennett. I’m right there with you – confused, sad, freaked out, tired, and hopeful. As always, teachers are pulling together to figure out the solution to the problem and we’ll get through this. Glad you found my blog and that the plan might ease some of the burden. Stay healthy, my friend! 🙂

  23. Laura,
    Thank you so much for sharing all of these amazing lessons! You really are magnificent!!
    Hope you and the fam are hanging in!

    Jen G. in No. Cal.

  24. Happy to help, Jen. 🙂 We’re all good here. Hope everyone’s staying healthy and hopeful.

  25. I’m a fifty year old guy who has been teaching for twenty five years and I want to be just like you when I grow up. Your materials, information and energy always impress. Stay well!

  26. Ha! Robert, that’s so funny! I was just telling my friends that I want to be like Robert when I finally figure out this teaching thing. 🙂

  27. Amanda Avery says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! We are absolutely all in this together! I hope your family is healthy and safe!

  28. Thanks, Amanda! We’re all doing fine. Hoping the same for you and your family, too. 🙂

  29. Laura for the win! How are you not on national TV? Talk show hosts should be raving about you!

  30. Oh, stop it some more, Rob. Thanks for the laugh! 🙂

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