Directors of the haredi preschool chains on Sunday sent an urgent letter to Education Minister Yoav Galant (Likud) warning that if they do not receive an exemption from licensing requirements for camps and afternoon programs, they will need to close their programs on Tuesday, sending 150,000 children home.
The letter was signed by the directors of the Beit Yaakov, Etz Hada'at, Agudat Yisrael Preschool Chain, and Or Layeled Center for Preschools, and affects the chains' preschools, daycares, and special education institutions.
According to the letter, the Ministry set exhausting and extraneous criteria for licensing as a condition for the operation of camps and afternoon programs.
"We're not talking about a summer camp, or even about private camp activities, or a private building," the letter read. "We're discussing activities which are a continuation of the school day in that institution, which is supervised during the entire year by the Education Ministry. The activities are held with the same staff that is present during the year, and which is constantly supervised by the Ministry and its supervisors."
"The children participating are only the children who study in the educational institution throughout the year, since during the coronavirus period, outside activities are not allowed and even internal activities are held with many restrictions. In addition, the licensing for the entire year covers July as well!"
The letter warned that if the Ministry does not back down from its demand, 3,700 institutions will close for the summer around Israel, leaving 150,000 children without a childcare solution.
"The last blockade preventing the economy's collapse is the continuation of organized activities in summer camps. It is unthinkable that because of too much bureaucracy, 150,000 children will not have a educational framework, which will limit their parents' ability to go to work," one of the directors emphasized.