HALIFAX -- New Brunswick schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019/2020 school year, unless the situation with COVID-19 drastically improves.

New Brunswick Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy made the announcement at a news conference Thursday in Fredericton.

Cardy said the school year will not be extended.

The minister acknowledged that families have been “anxiously awaiting” more information on their child’s education since schools closed on March 13.

“While our immediate concern continues to be public health and safety, we are committed to helping students continue their education while school facilities are closed,” said Cardy.

“In response, we have developed a plan to continue to deliver education to students.”

Cardy is asking students between kindergarten and Grade 12 to spend an hour to two-and-a-half hours a day on home-learning options. Students are encouraged to read for a minimum of 30 minutes a day and to spend 30 minutes on physical activity.

Information on home learning will be posted on a new family resources website and school officials will be in touch with families to discuss learning plans in the coming days.

Cardy says he understands there are some families with technological challenges, but adds the home-learning options will take that into account.

Cardy says, if Grade 12 students were on track to graduate as of January 2020, they will graduate this year and receive a New Brunswick high school diploma.

The same standard will be applied for students in lower grades, allowing them to move on to the next academic grade. 

Arrangements are being made for students to take their French oral proficiency tests.

Decisions on graduation ceremonies and other graduation events will be made in the coming weeks, based on the advice of Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health.

"Parents will have a key responsibility to encourage students to complete the provided material and continue learning, but it is important for families to understand we are not asking them to recreate a classroom in their home or to take on the full role of a teacher," Cardy said.