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Arkansas PBS to develop educational resources during coronavirus pandemic, official says

Education Secretary Johnny Key said the state is working with Arkansas PBS to develop educational resources for children during the coronavirus pandemic.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — During a press conference Friday afternoon, Education Secretary Johnny Key said the state is working with Arkansas PBS to develop a series of educational resources to help students who are at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Key said the resources will be for morning programming and focus on learning opportunities.

He said this specialized programming is expected to roll out after spring break. It will be targeted towards students in kindergarten through 8th grade.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said the goal is to limit the amount of instruction lost and "limit the impact on our children as much as possible."

"This partnership between Arkansas PBS and the Arkansas Department of Education demonstrates the type of creative solutions we need during this crisis," Hutchinson said. "Our ability to meet the needs of our citizens and provide our children with educational instruction regardless of the circumstances is important."

Key also said the state has received mixed messages on alternative methods of instructions (AMI). Some have said it has been too much work for students, while others say it's not enough.

He also announced that the education department is working with local school districts to find ways to provide WiFi or broadband access to students who may not have internet at home.

Key said the state is looking for "safe learning zones" county by county. This would be an area where WiFi would be accessible and provide students to learn while practicing social distancing.

The cancellation of ACT Aspire was also announced during the press conference. 

Key said the long-term impact of cancelling it is significant and the state is analyzing what that means for the future.

The Arkansas PBS partnership to provide educational programming will "align with current state and federal standards" that can be both supplemental and fundamental.

The ADE Division of Elementary and Secondary Education is developing the lesson plans.

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