The Knesset Education Committee decided on Sunday to overturn the government’s decision that fifth- to tenth-grade students will study remotely during the lockdown that starts at 5 PM Sunday. Following the committee’s decisions, all first- and fourth-grade students will continue to attend schools during the lockdown, while fifth-graders and up will attend schools only in green municipalities.
The Health Ministry initially demanded the lockdown of the entire education system, but the proposal was met with stiff opposition and so a shorter school day was proposed as a compromise, even though this does not make any sense from an epidemiological point of view.
Education Ministry officials accused the Health Ministry of looking to create “a ‘Yom Kippur atmosphere’ in the streets, with the parents sitting at home.”
The Blue&White, Joint Arab List, Yesh Atid-TLM, Labor, and Meretz members of the Education Committee voted in favor of the proposal to reverse the government’s decision.
MK Katie Sheetrit (Likud) voted against, and MK Yosef Tayeb (Shas) abstained.
Education Minister Yoav Galant supported the restoration of classes in grades 5 through 10, while Health Minister Yuli Edelstein opposed it.
Education Ministry spokesman Aryeh Mor said that “most of the increase in morbidity is in Haredi yeshivas and boarding schools, compared to a stabilization and even a decline in the non-Haredi Jewish sector.”
Mor added: “We’ve set up a control center to receive data from the Health Ministry which allows us to quickly investigate the contacts and quickly close individual classes or whole age levels.”
Last week it was decided that the kindergartens and grades 1-4 and 11-12 will operate as usual under the lockdown, with the school days running from 8 AM to 1 PM.
Secretary-general of the Teachers’ Union Yaffa Ben David said at the committee debate that her organization would declare a labor dispute with the Ministry of Education if all teachers in Israel did not receive Corona vaccinations.
“It is inconceivable that the teaching staff who are on the front line will not be vaccinated,” Ben-David said. “You must first vaccinate all those who work in kindergartens through 4th grade, and 11th and 12th grades. You must immediately vaccinate these teachers, and after vaccines are administered to all of them – only then will you activate the entire education system.”