With Washington On Edge, Discovery Offers Students Virtual Inauguration “Field Trip”

As the National Mall prepares to close to visitors and armed troops patrol the nation’s capital, Discovery and its education division are planning a “virtual field trip” for students exploring the ritual of Inauguration Day.

I Do Solemnly Swear: The U.S. Presidential Inauguration was announced by the company today as a no-cost education initiative with classroom, digital and television components. It is designed to help educators, students and families in the U.S. and around the world “explore the rich history and tradition” of the inauguration, a press release said.

The main program will premiere Tuesday at noon ET as an exclusive on the Discovery Education website and will air the same week on cable channel Discovery Family (a co-venture with Hasbro), and in Spanish on Discovery Familia.

A Discovery rep confirmed to Deadline that planning for the effort took shape long before the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Federal intelligence officials have raised alarms by indicating there are threats of more violence on Inauguration Day next Wednesday and perhaps in preceding days. National Guard troops in fatigues have been guarding federal buildings, appearing in force on Wednesday as the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting the storming of the Capitol, which left five people dead.

Despite the profound sense of unrest in Washington, the inauguration remains one of the nation’s oldest traditions. President-Elect Joe Biden has expressed strong interest in trying to uphold that history, insisting on carrying on with an outdoor ceremony, though Covid-19 will make the evening ball a virtual affair. Due to the rancorous 2020 election, many other things will be different about this year’s edition, starting with the refusal of Trump to attend Biden’s swearing-in, just the third such snub and the first since 1869. First Lady Melania Trump and many others in the president’s shrinking orbit are also planning to opt out, but Vice President Mike Pence says he will be there.

The primary audience for the Discovery initiative is elementary and middle school students, their teachers and families. It will feature interviews with experts and historians discussing the distinctive aspects of the presidential inauguration in the U.S.

I Do Solemnly Swear will aim to answer questions such as why the inauguration ceremony is held, how a First Family moves into the White House during the inauguration, and the meaning of symbols and language of Inauguration Day. The press release teases a “surprise guest,” who will share a message with students.

Along with the main program, learning resources and family activities created by Discovery Education’s curriculum experts will be available at the event homepage.

I Do Solemnly Swear is the latest “virtual field trip” produced by Discovery Education, which provides digital textbooks and other learning materials for K-12 classrooms worldwide

“Discovery Education is dedicated to helping educators prepare students for tomorrow by connecting them to today’s world,” Discovery Education CEO Scott Kinney said. “Exciting virtual field trips like I Do Solemnly Swear provide teachers, students, and families insight and perspective into the people, places, and events shaping our world, and we are excited to partner with Discovery Familia and Discovery Family to bring this unique event to students everywhere.”

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