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LAUSD Will Team Up With Public TV To Teach Kids If Schools Close

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The Los Angeles Unified School District will partner with local public television stations to provide educational programming in the event schools close in response to the spread of COVID-19.

Supt. Austin Beutner announced the plan during a press conference with city and county leaders today. PBS SoCal, KCET, and KLCS will provide "content that teaches to standards, that allows our students to have continuity of learning at every level," Beutner said.

In separate announcements, the district, PBS SoCal, and KCET laid out the details of how the partnership would work.

"The plan is for all students to have access to free educational resources at home provided by the local public media organizations, both on-air and online, regardless of their broadband access," the district said in its announcement.

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Access to technology has been a major concern for school districts that may be faced with shifting to online learning. LAUSD estimates that 50% of its 700,000 students don't have their own computer or tablet, and 25% of LAUSD families don't have internet access at home.

PBS SoCal will have programming for students in transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade, weekdays from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. KCET will feature content designed for high school students. The announcements differ on exactly which grade levels will be served by the district's station, KLCS - PBS SoCal's says 3rd-12th, while LAUSD's says Pre-K through 12th.

What will they be watching?

Here are some of the shows mentioned across the three announcements:

  • NOVA, a science show

  • Peg + Cat, an animated show for preschoolers
  • American Masters, a show that profiles American artists
  • Martha Speaks, a show that helps teach kids how to read
  • Shakespeare Uncovered, a show that looks at "the fascinating history behind Shakespeare's greatest plays"
  • Sesame Street

According to the district, the stations are working to create schedules and online resources that teach to state standards. Teachers will get training in providing assignments that go along with the shows, and according to KCET, students will get assignments and materials to take home with them.
Students can tune in on televisions, on the stations' websites, and through Smart TV apps.

The district has made other efforts to boost computer access for its students. Earlier this week, Beutner sent letters to internet companies asking them "to support our students by providing internet access to those who may not otherwise have access to learning."

In a different letter to state health and education officials, as well as state legislators, Beutner asked for $50 million of state funding to support online learning, including the purchase of 150,000 devices for kids who don't have their own.