VICTORIA -- British Columbia's education minister says he wants to learn from other provinces and countries like New Zealand before starting to reopen schools.

Rob Fleming says a number of scenarios are being considered for what would be a controlled and measured return to classrooms, but no timelines have been set.

He says officials are also discussing opportunities for students who may need help from speech and language pathologists for an hour or two a day at school.

Fleming says the move would also allow some respite for frustrated and exhausted parents struggling to cope.

He says 23,000 computers and devices have been loaned to families along with technical support.

Printed material and flash drives have also been delivered to students in remote areas without access to the internet.

Fleming says several thousand children whose parents are essential service workers are attending schools and there are plans to accommodate more of them.

Terri Mooring, president of the B.C. teacher’s union, says she’s in support of the province’s decision not to commit to a timeline of when students will all be back in the classroom.

“I’m not at all convinced that the school year’s over but I’m also not sure what’s going to unfold,” said Mooring.

“I actually appreciate the government’s approach of not setting specific dates, rather being guided by the experience we are having in B.C.”

Mooring also says some members of the BCTF will want to have access to personal protective equipment, regardless of whether that’s what medical experts recommend.

“I do think we’re going to have people, teachers and support staff much more comfortable wearing PPE’s, so I think it needs to be available for people to choose to wear if they want to – even if it’s not a recommendation.”  

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2020.