Education Ministry Changes Mind on Grades 1-4

Israeli Minister of Education Yoav Galant. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Confusion surrounding the opening of schools next week entered an advanced phase as the Education Ministry said that all children in first to fourth grades will attend school for four days a week, dumping an earlier scheme that would have had first and second graders attend for only half a week.

The change came on Wednesday in response to a barrage of criticism from parents and others who insisted on the importance of in-person learning, and the mindlessness of part-time schooling for working parents with small children at home.

Under the revised plan, students in grades 1-2 will go to school four days a week, up from three under the initial proposal. Grades 3-4 will also attend classes four days a week, down from five. Children in fifth grade and above will continue remote learning.

The Ministry said that schools with the resources to do so can open for five days a week, if they wish.

The plan would initially be in effect for two weeks, pending coronavirus cabinet approval, the ministry said, at which a time a review of the situation will be held.

However, the Israel Teacher’s Union had a clarifying word of its own on Wednesday, as union leader Yaffa Ben-David said teachers would only follow Education Ministry instructions and not those of local officials.

The previous day, she sent a letter to principals telling them not to open until the ministry provides clear instructions for the school day, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

“Until the Education Ministry publishes an outline with clear guidelines, the principals will not prepare outlines or act according to outlines of the local authority,” she wrote. “As we know, our employer is the Education Ministry and not the [local] authorities.”

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