BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Johns Hopkins is once again putting themselves in the national spotlight during this pandemic. First they created a COVID-19 cases map that’s widely used. Now they have developed an online curriculum to teach kids about the virus, turning them into advocates as a way to stop the spread.
"They’re going to be spreading this information with us and they’ll likely save more lives than any doctor or nurse ever could," said Johns Hopkins lung doctor Panagis Galiatsatos.
It started with Baltimore teachers reaching out to Dr. G because of his work with Medicine for the Greater Good, needing help in explaining the virus to their students.
"We were like we should just make this into a curriculum, let teachers be teachers but invite us in so we can teach the kids about COVID-19," said Galiatsatos.
From there, it spiraled into a Johns Hopkins-wide initiative about education and prevention.
"Spread the information and not the virus. Help us fight the stigma. Help us fight the misinformation that’s out there," said Galiatsatos.
The virtual course officially launched Tuesday night. Their first students were from the non-profit Usher’s New Look, based in Atlanta, which helps under-resourced youth through a comprehensive program.
"I was just blown away by the sophisticated, provocative questions that kids asked and the things they want to know and it underscored the need that is there and the ability that a program like this has to address it," said Dr. Megan Collins, co-director of Johns Hopkins Consortium for School-Based Health Solutions.
The course is broken up into four sessions. The first night focused on the biology of the virus. Others will cover face masks and other public health initiatives.
"We discussed why it can spread in people who have no symptoms and also it makes it very complex to contain it," said Galiatsatos.
And the best part: it’s completely free.
"It is at no cost that these young people get access to world-class education," said Alicia Wilson, vice president for economic development at the Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System.
They hope to integrate the course into the virtual fall curriculum in school systems across the nation.
It’s a mutual benefit for Hopkins because they are training their students to help in that expansion.
"It’s fantastic to bring Dr. G into the classrooms but we want to take the lessons that he has and train others to be able to go into classrooms all over the country," said Mindi Levin, founder and director of Johns Hopkins SOURCE.
With no vaccine yet, the goal is to make the students the front line to prevent the spread.
"How great of a story is it to say you as a teenager were on the front lines in disseminating information to turn the curve and you partnered with a renowned institution in doing so and impacted your community," said Geoff Streat, the chief operating officer of Usher’s New Look.
Even though they just launched, they are ready to go national and they’re looking for non profits and school systems to partner with. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in connecting.