REGINA -- Students across Saskatchewan will not be returning to their classrooms for the rest of this school year, the Ministry of Education says.

“As students continue to learn remotely, we encourage students and families to continue to take advantage of the supplemental learning opportunities being provided by teachers,” the ministry said in an emailed statement.

“The provincial government’s Response Planning Team (RPT) has updated school divisions in Saskatchewan with the news that schools’ supplementary learning will continue remotely for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year,” the Regina Catholic School Board's website says. “This means students will not be returning to school this year.”

Teachers will continue to provide students with supplementary learning until the end of June.

“What we’re doing online - there’s two different elements,” grade 7 and 8 teacher Jaimie Paysen said. “You’re still trying to connect to the students and maintain those relationships and make sure they’re okay. But equally teach them the concepts that are really important that they need for next year.”

But Paysen said teaching at a distance isn’t always easy.

“Our jobs are maintaining and creating relationships with kids,” Paysen said. “I would much rather be in school, and I think most teachers would feel the same.”

The RPT has started to work on a plan for the new school year, including what in-class learning might look like and timelines based on keeping everyone safe.

“We needed to move quickly and decisively in order to protect our students, staff and families, and within a matter of weeks, a supplemental learning framework was created to provide students with learning opportunities from their home. I am very pleased with the success we have seen using this new way of delivering education to our students and I commend teachers, staff and parents for adapting quickly and enthusiastically," Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gordon Wyant said.

The school board is also looking into creative ways to celebrate Grade 8 farewells and Grade 12 graduations that fit within the province’s COVID-19 guidelines.

Schools initially shut down on March 20 due to COVID-19.