Many school districts are struggling to set up distance-learning programs for students. Online offerings are sometimes nonexistent or spotty at best, and getting paperwork packets to students is nearly impossible with much of the country’s public life shut down because of the COVID-19 crisis.
So where to turn? One possibility: your local public television and radio stations.
Many of these stations nationwide are partnering with school districts and state education departments to provide curriculum-based lessons and educational programming — all free and commercial free. And in some places, award-winning teachers are leading the lessons.
According to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, its members reach almost 99 percent of the country, including areas where families have no Internet service.
There is already a host of strong partnerships offering extensive programming. For example, PBS SoCal says more than 200,000 Californians in 140,000 homes are tuning into daily to its “At Home Learning” broadcasts, a model being used by more than 70 stations in 30 states. PBS SoCal partnered with the Los Angeles Unified School District and several other California public media stations.
Here are just a few other examples of partnerships between local public media stations and school districts and states provided by CPB:
WGBH in Boston announced a partnership with PBS to launch the At-Home Learning Service to PBS stations nationwide. The five-hour block of programming for students in grades 6 through 12, backed by PBS LearningMedia resources, airs from noon to 5 p.m. on WORLD Channel, available to 70 percent of the country.
The Bennington Banner and others reported that the Vermont Agency of Education has partnered with Vermont PBS to provide educational programming to students, with pre-K-8 programming from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the main channel and grades 6 through 12 from noon to 5 p.m. on the PBS Plus channel.
NJTV, in partnership with the New Jersey Education Association and the New Jersey Department of Education, announced the launch of “NJTV Learning Live,” which started April 6 and is broadcast on weekdays. State Teacher of the Year Kimberly Dickstein Hughes hosts as some of New Jersey’s best public educators teach on-air classes daily for grades 3 through 6 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is live-streamed for viewers in New Jersey.
WCNY, in partnership with the Syracuse City School District, launched the TV Classroom network, kindergarten through grade 12 classes taught by district teachers and administrators from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays on WCNY’s GLOBAL CONNECT channel, simulcast from wcny.org, WCNY’s Facebook page via a live stream on YouTube.
APT announced its Learn at Home with Alabama Public Television initiative, which will modify regularly scheduled programming to offer specific pre-K through 12 resources. APT’s resources are aligned with Alabama state standards, customizable, and can be fully integrated with digital teaching platforms such as Google Classroom and Remind.
West Virginia Public Broadcasting announced its biweekly TV “Education Station,” offered through a partnership with the West Virginia Department of Education. Teachers across West Virginia have sent in videos of themselves teaching their favorite lessons, and they are presented from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays on WVPB across the state and on YouTube.