Back to School for Grades 1-4 in Israel

Empty classroom at in Yerushalayim on October 21, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel has decided to begin sending children back to school.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office announced on Sunday night that his coronavirus cabinet voted in favor of reopening school for children in grades one through four on Nov. 1. The older children will be divided into “capsules,” and the children in younger grades will come on alternating days to minimize class sizes.

Israeli schools opened for the school year on Sept. 1 but quickly moved to distance learning as a coronavirus outbreak spread. The government subsequently imposed a month-long lockdown that closed much of the economy.

After mishandling the lifting of a first lockdown early this year, Israel is moving cautiously this time around. Preschools reopened last week, and older children are to gradually return to school in a staggered plan over the coming weeks.

Sunday’s decision came after hours of discussion, and after ministers voted to keep the existing health restrictions in place until next Sunday at midnight.