CET, Cincinnati’s local PBS station, has always looked to support the community through its programming and educational offerings since it started broadcasting in 1954. This mission remained unchanged when the governor issued his stay-at-home orders in March and in fact led the station to find new ways to serve its audience.

“Sometimes you have to be supportive of the most vulnerable in our community,” says Kellie May, manager of Communications and Digital Initiatives for CET, of the changes the station put in place during COVID-19.

First, the station pivoted its programming to offer educational shows for school-age children who now had to stay home.

“We know that not everyone has internet access and even if you do you might have a family with only one computer or one tablet. In those situations we wanted to make sure that we were kind of going back to our roots and providing those educational opportunities that had access for everyone,” says May. Called At Home Learning, the schedule featured programming ideal for elementary school children, such as Molly of Denali, in the morning; for middle schoolers, like NOVA, in the late morning and early afternoon; and for high school students, like Secrets of the Dead, in the afternoon.

The channel’s daily schedule was posted online and included resources for parents. “They’re finding coordinated lesson plans on PBS Learning Media, resources from partners, and we’re putting those all in the schedule for parents that want to use that as sort of that lesson plan for the day,” says May.

Another way CET moved to help parents was to create a weekly email newsletter called Learning @ Home. The email contains links to content created by organizations like the Cincinnati Zoo along with resources such as PBS Learning Media. The resources are organized by age group so that parents can best find the content that fits their child.

“We know parents are deluged with information. PBS is a trusted partner. If we can make that as easy as possible with one email a week, let’s give you some place to start when you have time between your day,” says May.

But that’s not all CET did during quarantine. While productions were halted, the station’s executive producer and digital content specialist reached out to local artists to create a web series called Art in Isolation. Local artists were asked to film themselves answering a series of questions so as to document how the pandemic had affected them and their art.

“We knew that people’s social feeds were really dark. They were looking for something to cheer them up and inspire them—educate and inspire is part of our mission. We really thought that this was an opportunity for us to tell a story but also bring a little bit of light to people’s social feeds,” says May. All episodes can be seen on CET’s Facebook page, The Art Show’s YouTube channel and the PBS Video App.

While CET has already returned to its regular programming, May says the station is looking to carry forward some of what it’s learned during this time.

“[This] gives us an opportunity to look back and say, ‘OK, we did all of these great things. What can we learn from that and how will that impact the way that we operate?’ I think those discussions are happening,” she says.