Israeli Mayors Slam Education Ministry’s Plan For 4th-10th Graders’ Return To Classrooms


Israel’s Education Ministry announced on Monday that 4th through 10th graders will return to their classrooms on Sunday. However, the students’ return will be on a part-time basis in a limited fashion in order to avoid overcrowding in schools and on public transportation.

The plan calls for middle school students to be divided into groups of 20 per class and attend school only on Fridays or rotating afternoons for a total of five to six hours a week. Students in 7th-10th grades will attend classes two or three days a week.

The plan raised the ire of mayors and local council heads, with Modiin Mayor Chaim Bibas saying that “government officials have lost it.”

Bibas, who is also the chairman of the Federation of Local Authorities, and Shay Hajaj, the chairman of the Center of Regional Councils, sent a letter to Netanyahu slamming the education ministry’s plan and informing him that mayors will not re-open schools for 4th-10th graders on Sunday if the current plan is not changed.

“The children are not guinea pigs and the parents are looking for real solutions,” the letter stated. “The plan crosses all boundaries and is detached from reality. Students cannot attend one day a week, while others are attending two days a week. Either open the educational system completely or don’t open at all.”

“The outline for the return of the older grades to classes is one big ‘balagan,’…we demand a full re-opening of educational institutions in ‘green’ cities with very low rates of infection and a partial re-opening in ‘red cities’ where the infection is higher. We can’t run things out of fear two and half months into the [coronavirus crisis]. We’re obligated to provide real solutions to parents.”

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov reportedly nixed a request by the education and finance ministries to allow cities and communities with low infection rates to resume classes for middle and high school students without any limitations as well as a request to allow over 20 students in 4th-6th grade classes.

Students in pre-school, 1st-3rd grades and 11th-12th graders have already returned to their classrooms in a limited fashion. Universities and colleges are scheduled to re-open on June 14.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)