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The Jerusalem Post - Israel News
 
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Photo by: Isabelle Sharon
Children in southern Israel go back to school
By DANIELLE ZIRI
11/25/2012
Although the cease-fire was implemented several days earlier, some municipalities in South had decided to keep schools closed.
 
Children in southern Israel returned to school on Sunday for first time since Operation Pillar of Defense began on November 14 and the government suspended studies in the region.

Although the cease-fire was implemented on Wednesday, some municipalities in the South decided to keep schools closed on Thursday and Friday, to provide pupils with time to spend with their families and also allow time for those who had left the region during the operation to return home.

Yael Hadar, director of the Department of Education in the Eshkol Regional Council, explained that classes on Sunday morning were dedicated to hearing the pupils’ experiences of the past week and allowing them to express themselves.

“It was about hugging them today, letting them talk. The kids talked about where they were when they heard sirens, or what they did during the week, it was about their fears or difficulties,” she told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

“Tomorrow, the real classes will start,” she said.

Hadar added that teachers have been instructed to pay close attention to their pupils’ behavior and words, as difficulties in coping with the events of the past week may surface in the coming days – and children may need assistance with fears or other problems.

On Sunday morning, schools in the Eshkol Regional Council also welcomed teachers and staff before the kids arrived, in order to give them some guidance on how to conduct classes on the children’s first day back.

In some schools, teachers enjoyed a festive breakfast where they were also informed about tools to use when talking to the children about the conflict.

“The idea is that we need to listen to the teachers and their struggles first, so that they can then help the kids,” Hadar explained.

In schools of the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, classes started with an hour of discussion in which kids expressed themselves and shared experiences in class.

Yair Farjun, head of the council, explained that in one school, the children were also welcomed by a clown and a man dressed as a panda bear who hugged them and danced with them as they entered the gate, in order to “lighten up the atmosphere.”

During the last two hours of the day, schools in the region also held a meeting for teachers and staff where they were taught, among other things, to recognize pupils’ anxiety.

“That seminar was also meant to create a discussion amongst teachers and help them let their feelings out as well,” Farjun explained.

“It was hard for them too, they are human beings first and foremost. Some are also parents themselves and have to deal with their own kids at home.”

In both the Eshkol and Hof Ashkelon regions, a high attendance rate was recorded and only a few children were absent, most of whom were sick.
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