Lesson Plan: What role should the federal government have in reopening the economy?

Federal and State Powers During Health Emergencies

Scott Burris talked about the authority federal and state officials have in enforcing quarantines, curfews, and other restrictions in movement.


As state and federal officials start to develop plans to reopen the economy after the coronavirus outbreak, this lesson looks at the concept of federalism and applies it to reopening the economy. In this lesson, students will will view video clips from state governors, President Trump and legal experts to determine what the federal government’s role should be in this process.


  • WARM-UP:

    Have the students begin class by considering the following questions:

    • What are the current restrictions and social distancing guidelines currently in place in your community?

    • How might these restrictions and guidelines be different in other parts of the United States?

    For this lesson, students will need to have a working understanding of the following vocabulary terms. Students should research and explain each of the terms if they do not understand them.

    • Federalism

    • Federal Government

    • Governor

    • Local Government

    • President

    • State Governments

    To introduce the concept of federalism, have the students view the following clip and answer each of the questions. Students can access all video clips and activities using the Google Doc handout.

    Handout: Federalism and Reopening the Economy (Google Doc)

  • Video Clip 1: Federal and State Powers During Health Emergencies (2:40)

    • What powers are retained by the states?

    • What powers does the federal government have?

    • How can the federal government encourage states to follow their plans?

    • What tools does the federal government have during crises like the coronavirus outbreak?

    After introducing the concept of federalism during health emergencies, have the students view the video clips listed below to take notes on the roles of the local, state and national government when reopening of the economy. Students can view all video clips and take notes using the handout.

    Handout: Federalism and Reopening the Economy (Google Doc)


    Once students have viewed each video clip and recorded notes, they should address the following prompt and support their response with examples from the videos.

    What role should the federal government have in reopening the economy?

    This prompt can be addressed with a written constructed response, a discussion board post or any of the other deliberation activities found on the C-SPAN Deliberations website.


    C-SPAN Video Library Research- Using the C-SPAN Video Library research and find a video that shows how a state other than your own is approaching the idea of reopening the economy. Create a clip of that video that illustrates that state’s plan.

    Research Your State’s Plan- Using your state’s official website and news reports from your governor, research how your state is planning on reopening the economy. Provide the following information about this plan.

    • Summarize what your state is planning on doing.

    • Describe how your state is working with the federal government in this plan.

    • What is the possible timeline for this plan?

    • What are your opinions on this plan?

    • Who should take the lead in reopening the economy?

    • What factors should government officials consider when reopening the economy?

    • How should national, state and local governments balance the need to provide public health and economic stability?

    • Is the current division of federal and state appropriate to deal with issues like the coronavirus outbreak?

Additional Resources


  • Centers For Disease Control And Prevention
  • Consortium
  • Constitution
  • Coronavirus
  • Covid-19
  • Defense Production Act
  • Encroachment
  • Enforcement Mechanism
  • Federalism
  • Foreign Policy
  • Health Care
  • Interstate
  • Localities
  • Lockdown
  • Monarchy
  • Police Power
  • Region
  • Reopen The Economy
  • States
  • Travel Ban


Constitutional FoundationFederalism and State Issues


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