Schools across the country have been closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, so public television stations are trying to help fill the education gap facing young people. 

Neal Shapiro, president of the New York metro area public broadcasting station WNET, told Cheddar Monday that PBS stations are offering kids the tools to stay on track with their schooling via educational television.

The broadcaster has been working with a group of teachers in New Jersey to provide educational programming during the coronavirus pandemic. "Teachers are actually teaching from their very own homes, and they are using TV in a very interactive way. So, now they’re teaching from nine to one [o'clock], and each hour is a different grade," Shapiro said of the educators. 

Public educational television may be a "game-changer" for children going forward, he said, even after the pandemic is over. 

"As we think about how life will be different, education is one of those ways," Shapiro explained. "I think there are going to be a lot more ways in which we can use educational television to fill that gap."

PBS provides a vast range of content between its news, educational, and arts programming. Shapiro said increasing content is one way the channels can help communities hunkering down. 

"If you look at what we’re doing in the arts, that’s a whole other area where public television has kind of led the way," he noted. "In New York we’ve gone back and done some of our plays over the years. So, even though Broadway is dark we’re not."

WNET has also launched an Arts Only channel where they will stream Lionsgate Live! A Night at the Movies, hosted by actress Jamie Lee Curtis who is also sheltered at home. 

Shapiro said channels have seen an increase in viewership on all platforms and credits the broadcaster's unique programming. 

"I think one of the reasons we are particularly up is that there are still things PBS does better than other people," he said. "There is nobody who does deep documentaries the way we do. There’s nobody who has this rich library of fantastic drama and costume drama the way that we do."

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