Local broadcasters across the country are supporting students, teachers and parents as schools resume virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Radio and television stations are airing virtual lessons, hosting town halls to address the unique challenges of this school year and collecting supplies to help promote academic success.
Last month, Nexstar’s KDVR Denver began focusing news coverage on the changing landscape of the 2020-21 school year. They are examining the differences between the districts; what classrooms could look like during the pandemic; best systems for online learning; and how districts are preparing to help children without access to technology. In addition, KDVR held a town hall in August that featured local educators, teachers and doctors who answered parents’ questions and addressed their concerns for the school year.
ABC’s KTRK Houston hosted a two-night town hall, “COVID-19 and Our School,” in July to discuss how school districts are preparing for the new school year during the COVID-19 pandemic. As COVID-19 infections surge in the region, concerns are mounting about how the pandemic could affect classes, sports, activities and college admissions. KTRK’s investigative team surveyed 125 school districts that have about 2.5 million students to understand the complexities of the issue.
Hearst’s WDSU New Orleans donated 3,000 backpacks filled with school supplies during its “Student Connection School Supply Drive” on August 8. Drivers lined up to receive the school supplies beginning at 3 a.m., hours before the 9 a.m. start time. The supply drive was part of WDSU’s overall coverage of the reopening of schools. WDSU also aired a half-hour special, “Reopening Schools: The Real Test.”
“It’s not only our responsibility but our privilege to help our neighbors as we all continue to navigate through these very difficult times,” said WDSU General Manager Joel Vilmenay.
Three NRG Media radio stations in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, recently partnered with the Zach Johnson Foundation and the local nonprofit Kids on Course on a school supply drive. Hundreds of supplies were collected for the Kids on Course program, which serves nine schools in the Cedar Rapids Community School District.
Graham Media Group’s WDIV Detroit hosted an "Education Town Hall" on August 13 to discuss return to school plans during the coronavirus pandemic. Parents, students and education leaders from across the state answered questions on the complicated decisions currently being made by schools and parents. More than 43,000 viewers tuned in online, on the app and via Facebook Live.
The program was part of WDIV’s “Education 4 All,” a multiplatform reporting and community engagement commitment to extensively cover education, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. It features news reports, digital content, virtual town halls and specials, including a primetime program on August 31.
Radio and television stations in South Carolina have developed engaging educational content and resources to help bridge the gap for students learning from home. Union-Carolina Broadcasting Company, Inc.’s WBCU 103.5 FM partnered with the school district to record teachers, administrators and students reading their favorite stories and aired them each morning. Dick Broadcasting’s radio stations provided an extensive list of educational resources and activities and promoted them on air, online and via social media.
Last spring, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) Superintendent Aleesia Johnson called DuJuan McCoy, owner, president and CEO of Circle City Broadcasting, to say that she had about 10,000 students who didn't have broadband access or were huddled on buses in hot spots with inconsistent transmission. McCoy decided to produce and air two hours of academic lessons for IPS students in grades K-8 five days a week while the school system was closed. The lessons aired on MyINDY-TV 23 from 8-10 a.m. Monday-Friday beginning in late April. Circle City Broadcasting has extended the opportunity to IPS to partner again this fall and McCoy is committed to providing this critical resource to the community. “Free broadcast television can help to fill the gap for those without access by providing a link to educational opportunities for all students, regardless of income,” McCoy said.
Your local broadcasters are committed to providing a lifeline during emergencies, offering support and resources to their communities and shining a light on the issues that impact our lives, even as stations struggle from a steep decline in advertising revenue. Read more stories about broadcasters’ public service here.
More than 2.47 million American jobs depend on broadcasting, and the local broadcast radio and television industry - and the businesses that depend on it - generate $1.17 trillion annually for the nation's economy.