Education Ministry: Grades 1-2 will get at least four days in school

All studies will take place in capsules of up to 18 students, as originally requested by the Health Ministry.

An empty classroom in Israel (Illustrative) (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
An empty classroom in Israel (Illustrative)
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Children in grades one and two will be able to attend class at least four days per week, according to a plan prepared by the Education Ministry that will be approved Thursday at the coronavirus cabinet meeting.
The original plan was to return children to their classrooms only three days per week in capsules of up to 18 students.
The change, according to Education Minister Yoav Gallant, was made possible by reducing the number of days that third and fourth graders will learn live in their classrooms from five to four. It is not yet clear if there will be distance learning on the days the children are not in school.
Municipalities that can offer five days in school will be able to do so.
All studies will take place in capsules of up to 18 students, as originally requested by the Health Ministry.
“The plan is to return elementary school students to five days of schooling,” Gallant said. He said that the damage to students who have not been in school is on multiple fronts - both educational and psychological.
“I believe in our principals and teachers, who together with the heads of authorities, will run the educational institutions in the best way possible,” he said.
Gallant said that the coronavirus cabinet had charged him with coming up with an optimal plan for the next two weeks, at which time the cabinet in conjunction with the Health Ministry could review infection data and make a decision to change the plan. The plan was made after consultation with district principals and the heads of the local authorities.
Earlier in the day, in an interview with the Hebrew website Ynet, Yaffa Ben-David, the head of the Israeli Teachers Union, said that the teachers would not adhere to a plan presented by the local authorities without it having the full consent of the government.
“With all due respect to the local authorities, our employer is the state and we only receive instruction from the Education Ministry,” she stressed. “
Also Wednesday morning, the Knesset Education Committee rejected the outline for allowing students to gather in open spaces, which was approved by the coronavirus cabinet earlier in the week.
The Health and Education ministries had agreed to allow up to 15 students to gather outdoors for any educational or social activity run by their schools. The students were expected to stay 100 meters apart.
The committee said the cabinet should increase the number of students to 20 and decrease the distance between students to 50 meters.
“No professional body was able to explain the limitation of 15 students,” committee chair Ram Shefa charged.
The Education Ministry is considering postponing matriculation exams for older students, which generally take place in November and December to January in order to give pupils more time to study.
In an interview Wednesday morning with KAN News, Dr. Gili Regev-Yochay, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit from Sheba Medical Center, said that “it is clear” that schools need to reopen because of the damage it is causing to the country’s children. However, she warned, “if we do it too fast, we will see an increase [in infection]. We must do it carefully.”