As it became clear that most if not all K-12 students in Colorado would not enter classrooms for several weeks, folks at Rocky Mountain PBS decided to respond in a big way. Referring to PBS SoCal’s action to support remote learning, RMPBS reconfigured its broadcast schedule and online resources, looping in Denver Public Schools (DPS) district officials to align with standard curriculum objectives.
“It was only a matter of days after we announced school closures that RMPBS reached out to us to offer their broadcasting as a way for everyone to access educational content,” says DPS superintendent Susana Cordova. “PBS has supported educational programming for decades, so this felt like a natural partnership.”
The result was a change in RMPBS’ entire program lineup to display additional lesson plans and activities. It all came together in less than one week.
While regular programming on PBS Kids 24/7 will still serve early childhood learning, RMPBS’ daytime schedule is now blocked into STEAM-related content for K-12 students from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. After 5 p.m., traditional PBS programming resumes with shows such as the BBC World News, PBS NewsHour, and local productions. See this schedule with program listings and corresponding social studies, science, math, and language arts activities for students.
“We’re not staffed like traditional television stations,” says RMPBS chief marketing and sales officer Dan Diamond. “So to see this amount of work come together in this short period of time is a real testament to the support of our members, and just people who refuse to say no (in order to) make certain that our schools and our kids and our parents and our teachers are taken care of.”
The current program lineup and curated curriculum, which rolled out March 23, is just a starting point, says Diamond. As a public media provider with the ability to reach 98 percent of Colorado citizens, RMPBS intends to directly coordinate with many more school districts and teachers. Other resources may be added as the initiative gains more input from educators in different communities. News about the resources and TV programming will be communicated through RMPBS newsletters, social media posts, school district communications, and radio stations KUVO Jazz and The Drop.
“I hope other districts are able to take advantage of this powerful resource,” says Cordova. “We are in uncharted territory, and I have been inspired by the courage, creativity, and innovation of educators in DPS and across the nation. Everyone is rising to this monumental challenge.” DPS plans to launch full remote learning on April 7. Cordova considers RMPBS as part of their success.
At this point in time, it’s hard to tell what direct impact the refocus will have on educational achievement for Colorado students. Diamond says the first step is to provide resources for the need at hand, and if this situation continues, RMPBS will be in touch with districts to engage in some measurement of the programming impact.
Although the programming is new, “we know our audience,” says Diamond. “Whatever age they may be, they’re lifelong learners and their love of science and nature and math and engineering and all the different things that we’ve provided over all the decades has never waned.”