The newly rebranded Arkansas PBS, the state’s public television network, is taking a new role in teaching pre-kindergarten through 8th-grade pupils remotely while schools are ordered closed in the coronavirus pandemic.
The network, based in Conway, is bolstering its partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education to broadcast “streamlined, curriculum-based programming” to Arkansas children learning from home.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who ordered school closures and distancing measures as the number of state COVID-19 cases surged above 100 last week, said in a statement, “This partnership … demonstrates the type of creative solutions we need during this crisis. Our ability to meet the needs of our citizens and provide our children with educational instruction regardless of circumstances is important.
“Our goal is to limit the amount of lost instruction time, and to limit the impact on our children as much as possible,” the governor continued. “This coordination helps us accomplish that goal.”
Arkansas PBS Executive Director Courtney Pledger alerted Arkansas Business to a news release announcing the partnership over the weekend, sending good-health wishes and pledging the network to a vital campaign during the pandemic. The televised lessons, over the network’s six transmitters throughout the state, will be available over the airwaves to children without internet access.
Beginning Monday, March 30, Arkansas PBS will modify regularly scheduled programming for three weeks to offer to help teach pre-kindergartners through 8th-graders from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays. Programming will be modified throughout the school closures and will cover a wide range of content. Lesson plans and curriculum materials tailored to the PBS content will be available to parents and educators through the crisis.
Pledger said in the news release that the half-century-old network was established “as an essential educational resource statewide.” She said, “Today, more than ever, we are proud to serve Arkansas students, teachers and families…”
The lessons to be broadcast were coordinated by the education department’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education to align with state and federal curriculum standards, and content will be targeted specifically for the age group. The studies were produced to be flexible, based on students’ needs and timing.
“We at the Department of Education are proud to work with Arkansas PBS to deliver curriculum-based programming directly to students in their homes,” Arkansas Secretary of Education Johnny Key said in a statement. “Students statewide are impacted by school closures and it is important that we do as much as possible to reduce the amount of lost instruction time.”
Arkansas PBS provides free national and local content to classrooms through Arkansas PBS LearningMedia, and provides teacher training and professional development resources through its ArkansasIDEAS portal, serving 60,000 users throughout the state.
An Arkansas PBS LearningMedia resource page will aid teachers and parents with kids’ at-home learning, through ArkansasIDEAS. AMI instructional packets, including lesson plans and other resources, will be available. The page lets teachers search for the age range of their students – ages 3-5, 6-11 12-plus – and be connected with resources for online instruction and training, additional materials, and resources students can reach from home. Parents can search the same age groups to find activities for their children based on subject area. These resources include educational videos, activities and games.
Arkansas PBS will also share daily resources on Facebook, and parents can sign up here to receive daily learning resources emails, according to the news release.
Additional information about the modified broadcast schedule, online resources and virtual professional development opportunities is available here.
Arkansas PBS is available statewide over the air and through many cable and satellite providers. Instructional content will also be accessible on the Arkansas PBS Facebook page and the Arkansas PBS YouTube page.
Arkansas PBS is broadcast on KETS in Little Rock, KEMV in Mountain View, KETG in Arkadelphia, KAFT in Fayetteville, KTEJ in Jonesboro and KETZ in El Dorado.