Despite Education Minister Shai Piron’s reassurance to Israelis last week that the academic year would begin as scheduled on September 1 nationwide, the Beersheba parent teacher association announced Tuesday that the school year would not begin in its city until the operation in Gaza is over.
“It’s too big of a risk in a situation where children get to school on their own or use public transportation,” said PTA chairman Avner Biton, according to Ynet. “The biggest issue is traveling to and from school; during a time like this I wouldn’t send my children to school.”
Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni walked out of a meeting with Piron and southern municipal leaders in Beersheba on Sunday in protest of Piron’s announcement that the school year would begin as scheduled despite the security situation. Shimoni said that the school year would not start in Ashkelon as long as the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip continues.
The issue of postponing the 2014 school year was discussed during the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the operation in Gaza is unlikely to end before the scheduled start date of the school year, next Monday.
Netanyahu instructed the Home Front Command and the Education and Defense ministries to review each school in affected areas and make a decision on a case-by -case basis.
Piron said Sunday that the Education Ministry “is prepared to provide the residents of the south with a wide array of educational solutions, at any time or place.”
Also on Sunday, Education Ministry director general Michal Cohen held meetings with mayors of the communities near the Gaza border to discuss possible alternatives for schooling. Options discussed included holding smaller classes in shifts in rocket-proofed schools and synchronized distance learning. Cohen promised to provide national-service volunteers or soldier-teachers to help school staff guide students to bomb shelters, as well as additional funding for mental health support.