What has been the impact of COVID-19 on Israeli education?

 (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Before people even had a chance to celebrate the New Year, a report came from Wuhan informing the world that there is a novel coronavirus outbreak. COVID-19 rapidly spread from China to all continents through person-to-person contact. The further that the virus spread, the more epidemiologists took interest in examining it. The health crisis had led to school closures, playing havoc with the learning process of billions of children, youth, and their families. 
Israel’s education system is going through a time of intense difficulty following the coronavirus outbreak. The deployment of digital resources has widened the gap between haves and haves-not. Telecourses require different kinds of materials, such as lecture slides, videos, shared assignments, forum messages, etc. The main issue is that not all youngsters have computers or Internet access for that matter. Besides the visible disparities in technology access based on family income, it is important to not forget about the fact that online classes require a strong sense of solidarity. 


Given the tragic context of COVID-19, it can be hard to keep a positive mindset 

The COVID-19 pandemic definitely represents an inconvenience. Nevertheless, it is not a good idea to become obsessed with this calamity. When it comes down to such an event, people have the tendency to concentrate more on the negative as they struggle to make sense of the situation. Instead of developing a fixation on the bad things, it would be better to find solutions that can relieve the educational system. Israeli students need to know that they have support, so they should not feel helpless during these difficult times. 
Hillel professionals, for instance, have been offering virtual one-on-one support for students during the COVID-19 crisis. Understanding that they cannot be there physically for alumni, educators offer to listen. The meetings take place via Zoom, which secures video communication. The extra support matters in these times of intense change. The most significant campus organization for Jewish students around the world has succeeded in finding alternatives to providing students relief and instilling a sense of community in the youth during the coronavirus pandemic. 
Attention needs to be paid to the fact that there are various programs supporting Israeli students. The financial implications for those attending school, as well as their families, are considerable. This is precisely why they are provided aid – students can focus on their academic work without having to worry that they cannot afford to pay tuition. The challenges brought about by COVID-19 add another layer of stress in people’s lives. Witnessing how much students are struggling during the pandemic is regretful, to say the least. 


This pandemic has terribly disrupted an education system that was already suffering 

Educational institutions have temporarily closed their doors and suspended in-person instruction to make the transition to e-learning. Experts are trying to pinpoint the effects of school closure on learning in short- and long-term. It is believed that Israeli students will go back to school with lower achievement in the absence of face-to-face instruction from professors. They could show smaller learning gains from the previous year, which would not happen in normal conditions. Educators will be faced with a pressing issue. More exactly, they will have to help alumni recover and stay on track throughout the year. 
What is clear until this point is that the coronavirus pandemic has a terrible impact on an education system. Educational institutions are making tremendous efforts to offer students dignity and equality, which is not at all easy in conflict-ridden areas. Schools are expected to implement special programs that strengthen the state and help overcome divisions. Israeli education is positive overall, incorporating a great many initiatives and invaluable experiments, but it is not enough. 
Educational institutions continue to focus on traditional academic skills and memorization techniques, so it will be difficult for them to make online learning part of the new normal. Students and educators alike need to be creative and, most importantly, resilient. It is the only way to get through and overcome hardship. We can add to the positive side of the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing positive experiences. 
Too many expectations are being placed on students who are challenged now more than ever. They are missing out on opportunities to socialize, build self-esteem, and cementing milestones. Zoom lessons are instructive, yet we must not overlook their limitations. Not all students are automatically tech-savvy just because they have a smartphone. And let us not forget about the countless academic writing tasks that take up so much time and energy. Custom writing services are available, but students should take advantage of this time to develop their skills. They can write student-to-student letters using class vocabulary words. 

Israeli education in the post-COVID-19 era 

The world is heading into the unknown. Numerous solutions are being implemented to enable good quality education. It is too early to say how the Israeli education sector will look in the future. The only thing we can assert for sure is that this future is shaped by the current circumstances. Millions of students will not return to school, e-learning will exacerbate inequality, and more strain will be placed on the public sector. Maybe so, but there is an opportunity to develop a new vision for Israeli education. 
With time, we will get used to the shortcomings of technology and appreciate more the value of face-to-face encounters. There is no better time than now to tap into our creativity. We have the chance to do interesting things, acquire new skills, and innovate. The educational community can overcome the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic if it really wants to. It has responded pretty well to the crisis so far. The educational community should concentrate on finding new ways to recover stronger and ensure Israeli students have the same chances for quality education. 
Some are already excited about the opportunity for rethinking the contours of education. The world is changing and education needs to adapt to modern times. It needs to change today for tomorrow. We must think again and revise education.