Seven hundred students at the largest elementary school in east Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood are staying at home until at least Thursday because the school has no electricity and it is simply too cold to learn, the head of the Silwan Parents’ Committee said on Tuesday.

Students at Silwan Elementary School were on winter vacation for the past three weeks, and sometime during that period, water dripped onto the main electric box.

But when students returned on Sunday, it was so cold in the building that they were sent home after half a day, said Faris Khales, the head of the parents’ committee, who has two children at the school.

The committee said the students would stay home until the electricity problem was fixed, because the water was still dripping onto the electric box. The school has been without electricity for approximately 20 days.

“It is a really dangerous situation. It’s very dark and there are electrical shortages,” said Khales. “We don’t want the kids to miss classes, but their lives are more important.”

A municipality spokeswoman said the city had dealt with the problem previously but that it had recurred over winter break. She added that the city was “working intensively” to find a permanent solution.

Khales said that the city engineer had promised a crew would look at the problem on Wednesday, but insisted that there had to be more than a temporary fix.

Like many other east Jerusalem neighborhoods, Silwan suffers from a severe shortage of classrooms. The classrooms that do exist have serious infrastructure problems, including exposed wires, broken and cracked courtyards, and areas filled with trash.

East Jerusalem lacks an estimated 1,000 classrooms. This year, the municipality is building 42 classrooms in Arab neighborhoods.

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