Online resource offers child-friendly lesson on COVID-19

Parents and guardians looking to find a child-friendly yet scientifically accurate way of speaking to kids about COVID-19 and other communicable diseases can turn to a new resource from UNMC, in partnership with the “Youth in Agriculture” education program. A user-friendly online COVID-19 Training mini-course for kids now is available via phone, tablet or desktop computer.

Kids and their parents can navigate an online module following Gerry the Giraffe and her animal friends, as they learn about COVID-19 and other diseases. “Graduates” of the program can print out a certificate of completion.

“This prevention-focused information for kids and their parents will be especially helpful as we enter the winter viral respiratory seasons when kids are at risk from the ‘tripledemic,’” said Ali S. Khan, MD, MPH, dean of the UNMC College of Public Health.

The triple-what?

“Influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and respiratory Syncytial virus (RSV) will likely be circulating in our communities at the same time,” said Dr. Khan, a former director of public health preparedness and response at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That sounds scary. But this training on COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases is intended to help kids understand the basic facts so they can feel brave and stay safe.

Alex Todd, who served as point person on the project for the UNMC College of Public Health, said: “Our goal has been to present this information in a way that kids can implement in their lives. We’ve produced something that is interactive, making sure the graphics are engaging and the language is appropriate.”

Youth in Agriculture staff with kids at home helped with initial testing of what connected with actual child audiences. The course is intended for elementary through middle school kids, though teens and adults also could enjoy Gerry and friends and maybe even learn a new fact or two.

Todd, who completed her Master of Public Health capstone on misinformation among adults during the pandemic, said she enjoyed working on a project geared toward kids.

Youth in Agriculture is a joint venture led by Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ program in collaborative partnership with the college of public health’s Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Services, Nebraska FFA Association and 4-H.

To access the training module, go to this link.