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
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
“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
“Tomorrow, the real classes will start,” she said.
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
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
In some schools, teachers enjoyed a festive breakfast where they
were also informed about tools to use when talking to the children about the
“The idea is that we need to listen to the teachers and their
struggles first, so that they can then help the kids,” Hadar
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.
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.