Classrooms have been empty for over six weeks
Classrooms have been empty for over six weeksiStock

A month and a half after the education system was shut down due to the current lockdown, the government’s “coronavirus cabinet” has finally authorized the partial reopening of schools, as children in grades one to four inclusive get ready to return to their classes next Sunday.

According to a report in the Yisrael Hayom newspaper, heads of local authorities from across the country are demanding that they be given the authority that will enable them to prepare a suitable outline for the resumption of studies themselves, in a format that will allow students to learn five days a week in school, rather than switching off alternate days with classes divided into smaller groups (“capsules”).

On Monday, Education Minister Yoav Galant held a Zoom meeting with the local authority heads, following statements made by many of them indicating that they intend to permit schools to reopen five days a week for children in grades one and two, and demanding that the government grant them the authority to make the necessary preparations.

During the course of the meeting, Galant made it clear that he did not support such a move, even though that puts him at variance with the official government stance. He called the proposals of the local authority heads “unprecedented, unnecessary, and wrong,” and asked them to help him come up with an alternative solution.

The head of the Federation of Local Authorities, Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut mayor Haim Bibas, responded that the government is clearly detached from reality and is making decisions that it is impossible to implement.

“It is not at all clear how the coronavirus cabinet and the Prime Minister – who know that the local authorities have the ability to organize this better – could have found a ‘solution’ that is no solution at all,” he said. “We’re talking about very specific issues here, but yet again, the interests of students and their parents are being sacrificed due to decisions that have not been made in a professional manner.”