Matriculation exams reduced as high schools shut indefinitely over virus
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Matriculation exams reduced as high schools shut indefinitely over virus

Education minister says students will be allowed to graduate despite disruption caused by coronavirus pandemic

Illustrative: A closed school in the northern Israeli town of Safed on March 13, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Illustrative: A closed school in the northern Israeli town of Safed on March 13, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Israeli high school students will take a reduced number of exams for their final “bagrut” matriculation grades, as the coronavirus pandemic continues, the Education Ministry announced Wednesday.

Exams will begin June 22 and students will take only three to five exams instead of the usual six or seven.

There will be a compulsory examination in mathematics, and then English and Hebrew or Arabic (according to the student’s language).

Students can take an exam in either citizenship, literature, history or Bible studies. In addition, they can be tested in the field of sciences — chemistry, physics, biology or computer science.

Consideration will be given for the disruption to studies and the exams will be spaced out over a period of five weeks, with only one subject per week. In some subjects, schoolwork will be taken into account and students will be examined through the use of more quizzes.

Education Minister Rafi Peretz attends a meeting of the Jewish Home party in Tel Aviv, January 13, 2020. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Education Minister Rafi Peretz said the plan was enacted to ensure students were still able to graduate from high school despite the disruption caused by the pandemic.

“We have prepared alternatives in advance where the main goal is the benefit of the student, so we are working to ensure that all of the students are entitled to a matriculation certificate,” he said. “We hope that the spread [of the coronavirus] will drastically decrease after Passover and we can return to a routine, albeit a different routine, that will get students back on track.”

According to the Walla news site, the ministry is preparing for three scenarios — a reopening of schools; a continued shutdown with remote learning; and a reopening of schools but with restrictions.

However, Education Ministry director-General Shmuel Abuav said Wednesday that schools are unlikely to resume on April 19 after the Passover holiday, and Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman-Tov made similar comments on Monday.

A closed school in the northern Israeli city of Safed, March 13, 2020 (David Cohen/Flash90)

Israel’s 2.2 million elementary, middle and secondary school students have been homebound since March 13, following a government decision to shut down schools in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Schools switched to remote learning, which was aborted on March 18 due to a labor dispute, then restarted a few days later. However, the supposedly state-of-the-art interactive remote learning platform has suffered numerous glitches and both parents and teachers have complained the system is ill-equipped to cope.

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