Arab-Israelis prefer to keep schools closed amid coronavirus spike

Parents and local authorities would prefer not to open schools in red zones.

Young female students at a dancing lesson with Israeli teacher Neria Cohen, at the Arab private school, Promise, in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, on May 6, 2018. (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
Young female students at a dancing lesson with Israeli teacher Neria Cohen, at the Arab private school, Promise, in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, on May 6, 2018.
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
The heads of several Arab local authorities have informed the Health and Education ministries they prefer schools not open on Tuesday due to the high rate of coronavirus in the Arab sector.
Parents of students in several Arab cities and local authorities designated “red” because of the large number of coronavirus cases have also expressed support for keeping the schools closed.
Many Arab citizens said there was a state of confusion and uncertainty regarding the opening of the new academic year. Unlike previous years, many parents and students did not show up to purchase books and essential school equipment, bookstore owners in some areas said.
“The parents and students are confused and afraid,” said Mohammed Jabali, a resident of the city of Taiba. “Because of the coronavirus, they are not sure whether the children will be returning to school.”
“Many schools in the Arab sector may not open on Tuesday in light of the growing number of coronavirus cases,” said Ayman Saif, the Health Ministry official in charge of combating the disease in the Arab community.
“The data in the Arab sector is very worrying,” he said Monday. “We are talking about 500 new cases every day. Therefore, the situation is not good.”
Several Arab cities designated “red” will be under restrictions, including limited movement of people and the closing of schools, Saif said. The heads of local Arab municipal councils support keeping schools shut to stem the spread of the coronavirus, he said.
In the city of Tira in the so-called triangle area, which has been designated “red” due to the spike in the number of infected cases, the parents’ union said it supports the opening of the scholastic year.
“There’s no need to close our schools as long as the government hasn’t decided on a general lockdown in the country,” said a member of the union. “Within one week, our city became ‘red,’ and there are several students who caught the virus in public places, especially at weddings. If they continue to sit at home, this will have a negative impact on them.”
The Kafr Kassem Municipality said it was not prepared to open the schools as long as there is no government decision regarding the “red” cities. “Our children are not toys,” a municipality official said.

Kafr Kassem Mayor Adel Badir recently imposed a lockdown on the city after the discovery of 134 coronavirus cases.
Tira and Kafr Kassem are at the top of the list of Arab communities with a high rate of infected cases.
By mid-Monday, there were 478 cases in Tira, 399 in Kafr Kassem, 385 in the Bedouin town of Rahat and 317 in Umm el-Fahm.
Among the Arab cities and communities designated “red” are: Daliat al-Carmel, Ein Mahil, Kafr Kanna, Kafr Bara, Jatt, Jaljulya and Ibillin.