Your students are distance-learning at home. Can they still do a litter cleanup as a scientific investigation? Yes they can, if they are able to safely go outside and follow precautions. Older students may be able to do this on their own, younger students will need an adult to help. Either way, it's important to get support from the adult at home so that safety precautions are followed and the students are able to safely dispose of whatever they collect.
The same planning strategies can be used as described on the Doing Your Cleanup page. Students can map out their study area by using an online mapping website, or by making their own drawing of the site. It might be the sidewalk directly in front of their house or apartment, an outdoor common area in their apartment complex, their block, or a neighborhood park. They can make predictions of the quantity or type of litter they'll find. They can investigate two locations in order to compare their findings. They can replicate their investigation in order to compare what they find on different days.
Safety precautions remain as important as they are during a Schoolyard Cleanup, especially during COVID-19. If available, students can repurpose kitchen tongs to avoid picking up items with their hands. They shouldn't pick up anything sharp or that might cause injury. Follow state and federal guidelines for COVID-19 safety practices.
At-home cleanup data can be analyzed as suggested for a Schoolyard Cleanup. Consider privacy concerns as you decide whether and how to share individual student data. Students may feel uncomfortable or vulnerable sharing data from their home space. You may choose to consolidate the data for group analysis.
After analysis you might ask students to propose solutions for their individual investigation site or for their school community as a whole. Even when learning at home, there are many opportunities for communicating results and proposed solutions, including social media posts and videos, writing letters to local officials or news outlets, offering public comment during a government meeting (many of which are being held online), or even hosting your own webinar or online community meeting. Please let us know what your students develop. We might even be able to help you spread the word!