Mathematics & Covid-19

During this time of uncertainty and anxiety, you might find information is really valuable. In looking for information, you’ve likely come across a lot of numbers. Take a look at these recent headlines:

Mathematics provides one way of making sense of what is going on in the world right now, but, as always, it is important to ask where the numbers come from and what they mean. Also, mathematics cannot be the only factor you consider when making decisions.

For instance, on the last in-person class with elementary teacher candidates, we talked about the pending decision to close PreK-12 schools. School administrators had to weigh important information coming in from public health organizations, often based on mathematical predictions, against other factors. Many children rely on schools for breakfast and lunch, and closing schools unexpectedly would have a huge impact on families. Ultimately, the PreK-12 schools closed, and fortunately, the district has made arrangements to provide meals for families during the extended closure.

Mathematics may not help you understand all the human and emotional factors at play during this challenging time, but here are a few resources to help you more fully understand the role that mathematics can play in understanding the impact of this pandemic.

The mathematics of a pandemic

Kamuela E Yong, Ph.D. is a mathematical epidemiologist at the University of Hawaii, West Oahu. He has put together a couple of amazing resources:

Linda Levi, Ph.D. is the Director of the CGI Math Teacher Learning Center, and her nephew Alex Levi is a third year undergraduate studying Mathematics at the University of Chicago. They have put together a lesson for children and their families to explore exponential growth together – an important mathematical concept for understanding the mathematics of a pandemic.

If you have other resources to share, please add them in the comments section!

Stay healthy everyone!


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