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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Public TV Partners With Regional Educators On Distance Learning Channel

Mark Jontry
Ryan Denham
Regional School Superintendent Mark Jontry said his office will help generate instructional content for a new disatance learning television channel.

Peoria Public TV and regional offices of education in central Illinois are starting a distance learning television channel. 

“Instructional coaches that some of our offices employ will formulate some of the content over the course of the months and then they will go in and it will be produced by WTVP,” said Mark Jontry, regional superintendent for DeWitt, Livingston, Logan and McLean counties.

WTVP television also will use some publicly available education content on channel 47.5.

Jontry said funding for the effort will largely come from grants and major donations at first, though regional offices of education in the 20 counties being served could later consider a request from WTVP depending on the size of the ask and the materials provided.

“It’s just one more tool that we’re attempting to try to provide to ensure that students are going to continue to have learning opportunities in the event that remote learning or some hybrid between in-person and remote learning is just a way of life in the fall and spring,” said Jontry.

The channel, to be branded as WTVP REMOTE, is projected to be on the air later in the summer in time for the 2020-2021 school year. The channel has the potential to reach 200,000 households in the region.

Proponents billed the service as important to the thousands of low-income urban families and rural residents who do not have reliable access to high-speed internet, cable TV service or a computer. Under current quarantine conditions and in other natural disasters or school disruptions, those students are almost completely cut off from instructional resources, the regional office said in a news release.

“We are proud to partner with WTVP and our fellow Regional Offices of Education in Central Illinois to provide this valuable programming for the students and families we serve,” said Jontry.

Content will be scheduled throughout the day to support curricula for pre-kindergarten through grade 12 in math, science, reading, language arts, social studies and other subjects.

“A big part of WTVP’s mission for 49 years has been to serve as a quality educational resource for the community. We do that every day on our flagship station, PBS Kids, Create TV and the World channel,” said WTVP President and CEO Lesley Matuszak.

“This takes our commitment to education to a whole new level. It is the right thing to do for the children, parents and educators who are working so hard to stay engaged through remote learning. There couldn’t be a better time for WTVP to acquire the technology and form the partnerships to make this happen.”

WTVP said it is working with local and regional administers to secure funding needed for ongoing production and programming on WTVP REMOTE.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.