Shmuel Abuav, the director-general of the Education Ministry who has led the coronavirus response in the school system, informed Education Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday that he intends to step down from the post after three years.
The ministry has been caught in a dispute with the Teachers Union over employee rights and the extension of the school year into the summer vacation amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Abuav wrote in a letter to Gallant that he was willing to stay on through the start of the coming school year in September if needed, according to Hebrew-language media.
“I end this chapter with deep satisfaction over the significant issues we managed to promote,” Abuav wrote.
“We’re in a complex moment for the education system in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic,” Abuav said. “Therefore, as needed, I’ll continue in my role during the summer vacation and until the start of the next school year.”
He added: “Over the last year I dealt with stabilizing the system, dealing daily with the coronavirus crisis and its far-reaching impact on the functioning of the education system.”
Abuav has been serving as director-general of the ministry since 2017, when he was appointed to the post by former education minister Naftali Bennett.
Gallant released a statement praising Abuav, saying “he helped me a lot since I entered the post and proved to be a loyal partner in dealing with the challenges of the coronavirus period.
Citing the need to prepare for the coming school year, Gallant said, “I’ll work to bring a fitting candidate for government approval as soon as possible.”
Gallant’s deputy, United Torah Judaism’s Meir Porush, hailed Abuav as a “professional” who “led the Education Ministry to many achievements with immense dedication for years, and worked for the benefit of all Israeli children.”
The entire education system was shuttered for two months during a lockdown that began in mid-March, with lessons taking place remotely.
The schools reopened in May as part of a push to reopen the economy as infections waned, but a new coronavirus wave began a short while later, originating mostly in schools and kindergartens before spreading nationwide.