REGINA -- The Ministry of Education announced teachers and school divisions across the province will be back at work next week to develop plans for distance learning.

The government’s Education Response Planning Team has been working with school divisions to develop a short and long-term plan to support students in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saskatchewan schools closed their doors on March 20, to help limit the spread of the virus.

"We've been talking a lot in the education sector about ‘let’s pay attention to the person, to the whole child. Let’s make sure their needs are met first,’ said Clint Repski, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Education.

“In terms of moving forward on an academic basis opportunities will be afforded, we've been operating under the principal that our children, our students will not be negatively impacted by this pandemic."

The province has developed a framework for school divisions to work within and adapt moving forward to best suit the needs of their own students, parents and teachers.

Developing the specifics of distance learning within the province’s framework will be in the hands of individual school divisions.

“We have 27 unique school divisions across the province and the reality is they know their families and students better than anybody. They’re going to be in a position to adapt their learning on a go forward basis to best accommodate the families that they have attending their schools,” said Repski.

The ministry said at least 13 school divisions have online distance learning infrastructure already in place and other schools will work towards that. Planning will begin on Monday.

The province’s guidelines for school divisions include a focus on making sure students are given the opportunity to learn and teachers are still able to provide education at a distance for families that choose to take advantage of it.

On the back of this announcement, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) said it will be suspending its previous sanction action that came into effect two weeks ago.

“With the situation that we find ourselves in we know that teachers want to be able to go into their schools after hours,” said Patrick Maze, the president of the STF.

“We believe it is important now to allow that to happen, we also don’t want, during the actual work day, to have long lineups at the photocopier and the scanners, so we want teachers to be able to practice social distancing while they’re getting their work done.”

The sanctions began on March 12, the same day the province announced its first case of COVID-19.

Following that job action, teachers were not allowed to provide professional service for more than 15 minutes before or 15 minutes after the school day.

The suspension of these sanctions gives teachers the ability to work outside of school hours and now more time to help develop distance learning options for their students.

The STF emphasized that the sanctions have just been suspended and could continue in the future.

With files from CTV News Regina’s Creeson Agecoutay