Elementary educators looking for a free resource to teach students about the Coronavirus and COVID-19 will have help from a zany book character named Mrs. Can. Thanks to a grant from Northwestern University and its Center for Food Allergy & Asthma Research, a free download of “The Class That Can: Coronavirus” will be available to teachers nationwide, along with a virtual resource to libraries and school systems by request.

The book features third graders from a fictional “Class That Can” who are learning from home because of the Coronavirus. The students are excited when their teacher, Mrs. Can, introduces them via computer to her friends, Dr. Kenneth Fox and Dr. Ruchi Gupta, both of whom are real-life, seasoned pediatricians.

“Teachers create meaning for students, and this resource can be a powerful part of their toolkit as they boldly innovate in the age of COVID,” says Dr. Fox, a pediatrician for more than 30 years and Chief Health Officer of Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district. “The Class That Can: Coronavirus is written in a fun, honest voice that kids can understand and that our times recommend.”

In addition to the free digital copy for educators, digital and paperback books are available for sale on-line. For every paperback copy sold, one paperback copy also will be donated to a school. For info about “The Class That Can: Coronavirus,” visit www.citizensofcan.com.

Pediatrician and researcher Gupta, a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Lurie Children’s Hospital, joins Dr. Fox in the book. “What makes this book stand out is that it answers questions kids frequently ask in a fun and positive way,” explains Dr. Gupta. “By focusing on what young people can control and understand, this resource will help teachers and parents support their children through this challenging time.”

Riya Jain, an eighth-grader in the Chicago Public School system (also Dr. Gupta’s daughter) and JJ Vulopas, a 2019 college graduate finance professional, co-wrote the book. Jain and Vulopas collaborated last year when they wrote a children’s book about food allergies. The pair, along with award-winning American illustrator Bill Dussinger, created three other “Class That Can: Stay Healthy” books, which will be released in July.

Each “Class That Can” book is based on a youth empowerment initiative that Vulopas developed while a student at the University of Pennsylvania. Vulopas speaks across the nation about empowering young people. His books and materials are used in elementary schools and pediatricians’ offices.

“‘The Class That Can: Coronavirus’ is a creative and developmentally sensitive resource to help children
voice their concerns and discover ways to thrive during these uncertain times,” said Dr. Colleen Kraft, 2018 President of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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