Yaffa Ben David: 'Preschool teachers aren't babysitters'

'Preschool teachers are not babysitters, if we would have been at a round table we could've helped create best plan for everyone,' ITU head says.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Yaffa Ben David
Yaffa Ben David
Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90

Yaffa Ben David, Secretary General of the Israel Teachers Union, responded to the announcement that the school year would be extended into July, emphasizing that teachers are not babysitters.

In an interview with Ynet, Ben David said that from her perspective, the school year will end as scheduled.

The extended school year will aim to fill in gaps, and in younger grades will work similar to the existing "summer school."

"We are in favor of expanding the 'summer school,' as happened in previous years," Ben David told Ynet. "Anyone who wants to can work and receive additional payments."

However, she added that she does not believe students need regular school during the summer: "This isn't the time, this isn't what the children need."

She also said that teachers and students are exhausted from the past year, and the focus now needs to be on children's mental health.

"We need to allow them to breathe," she said, adding that "even if you operate [school], students won't come. Not grade five, not grade six, and not the middle schoolers and tenth grade students."

"Certainly, we are an organization which needs to ensure the welfare, first and foremost, of teaching staff. But, when we take care of teaching staff, the students also benefit. The right to choose to teach during the summer will remain. We know that no one asked the students, who themselves have said that they will not come. Friends, teachers have worked 200% more than usual, and students have been on Zoom all day."

Regarding preschools, Ben David said, "The preschool teachers also have turned themselves inside out. There are 35 children in a preschool, they gave them a plan to stay in touch, because that is what is needed at those ages."

When asked how parents are supposed to entertain their children during the summer, she answered: "You have a mistake - a big mistake. The preschool teachers are not anyone's babysitters. Take even more than two weeks - maybe three or four weeks. There will not be summer school during August. In July they can take even a whole month, and whoever wants to work will work - and whoever does not want to, will not work."

Ben David also explained that she had not been consulted about the plan. "No one came and said, 'Okay, let's stop and listen to what's happening on the ground.' If we would have been at a round table, we would have been able to create the best plan for the benefit of everyone."

"They build the plan, and afterwards the Health Ministry sends them guidelines and then they send us the plans. I've spoken a few times with the Education Minister, and he said the is also dependent on the Health Ministry guidelines, and that he is waiting for them.

"I believe that the Prime Minister and [Education Minister Yoav] Galant (Likud) have good intentions, but they need to understand one thing: Summer vacation is intended both for teachers and for students. Everyone is always looking at teachers' summer vacation. They worked hard. They need that vacation. They need to gather energy. You want quality people in the system? Give them their vacation. Next year will also be difficult and they need to gather strength."

"I very much hope that the next school year will start in a better way," Ben David said, adding: "I call on anyone who has not been vaccinated to go and get vaccinated. First of all to protect their own health, and to protect that of the children and families."

"The fact is that the vaccine IS effective and we see that there are less infections. So therefore, if we all get vaccinated, I believe that we will truly be able to operate the system. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we will get it done, as we always do."