WILL Pressroom

Illinois Public Media expanding education efforts to better serve teachers and families during COVID-19 outbreak


As schools around Illinois and across the country close in response to COVID-19, Illinois Public Media is ramping up our commitment to helping children of all ages learn at home. This effort to better serve teachers and parents includes a number of educational offerings across multiple platforms, supporting at-home learning for students ranging from Pre-K to 12th grade.

Photo Credit: pbs.org

“As educators, students, families, and caregivers work through these challenges, Illinois Public Media is fulfilling its mission by ensuring that all children have access to free educational resources at home, or wherever they receive care and teaching instruction,” said Moss Bresnahan, CEO and president of Illinois Public Media.

Beginning today, March 30, WILL-TV (channel 12.1) is presenting a new daytime lineup of educational programming tailored to students Pre-K through 5th grade. Families can count on award-winning PBS KIDS programs geared towards 3- to 7-year-old children from 6 a.m. until noon, 4- to 8-year-old children from noon to 3 p.m., and 6 to 12-year-old children until 5 p.m.

Bresnahan believes an important benefit of broadcasting this educational content is to help bridge the digital divide by providing equitable access to learning for all students at home. “WILL-TV’s ability to deliver curriculum-based programming into the homes of students impacted by statewide school closures will support the efforts of educators to reduce the loss of instruction time, regardless of access to broadband or devices.”

Illinois Public Media also plans to launch a block of at-home educational programs specifically tailored toward older students, 6th through 12th grade, on WILL-TV Create/World (channel 12.3). That schedule will be finalized in the coming weeks in consultation with local school districts.

“WILL-TV was founded more than 50 years ago to be an educational resource for our community, and our community needs us now, more than ever,” said Kimberlie Kranich, director of engagement and educational outreach at Illinois Public Media. “And during this difficult, unprecedented time, we recognize the importance of continuing the educational experience by providing access to free educational resources to those students and families at home.”

Families can find online resources, including free games and apps, on-demand videos, printable PDFs, and articles for parents supporting the at-home learning effort at will.illinois.edu/athomelearning. Similarly, all programs presented during this time of at-home learning have associated learning materials available for download on PBS Learning Media—an online library of thousands of curated free, standards-aligned videos, interactives, and lesson plans specifically designed for teachers and students.

Additionally, Illinois Public Media is partnering with Champaign Unit 4 Schools to ensure local families are made aware the programs and resources offered and how to access them. As the COVID-19 response continues to evolve, we will continue our efforts to reach out to other districts and educational organizations to bring this content into more homes across central Illinois, free of charge.

“The partnership between WILL and local school districts highlights our state’s ability to work together to meet the needs of our children, no matter the circumstances. Together, we can help meet the educational needs of all children during this critical time,” said Bresnahan.

This programming change will pre-empt normal broadcast schedules. Please visit will.illinois.edu/athomelearning for more information on Illinois Public Media’s efforts to support at-home learning during the COVID-19 outbreak, including updated TV schedules.

As always, WILL KIDS 24/7 (channel 12.2) provides 24/7 access to favorites, such as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Arthur, Pinkalicious and Peterrific, Wild Kratts, Odd Squad, and many others. Families can also stream WILL KIDS 24/7 live on pbskids.org and through the PBS KIDS Video App.