Schools in Tel Aviv permitted to fully re-open on Tuesday

Many students in central Israel have not been in school full-time since before the Sukkot holiday in September

Gavriel Fiske is a reporter at The Times of Israel

Illustrative: Israeli high school students. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli high school students. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Kindergarten to 12th-grade schools in Tel Aviv are set to return to full functionality on Tuesday, the Tel Aviv municipality said Monday, after more than six weeks of limited studies due to the Israel-Hamas war and repeated rocket attacks on the area.

The decision comes after the city and the broader Dan central region were reclassified Sunday as “green” areas by Home Front Command. Under the color-coded system in place since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, “green” areas are allowed to have in-person educational activities without restrictions.

Previously, the city was classified as “yellow,” meaning that in-person learning could occur only within certain security parameters, including a bomb shelter large enough to hold the students and staff present in school.

In practice, that meant that many schools in the area were operating on a staggered system, with students able to physically attend school only two or three times a week, with the off-days assigned for distance learning.

Staffing shortages caused by the massive call-up of reserve soldiers were also a factor in the erratic scheduling. The Education Ministry has given licenses for individual municipalities and schools to decide for themselves how to schedule their classes during the war, in compliance with the Home Front Command directives.

According to a Sunday expose in the Hebrew-language business site The Marker, schooling has been erratic throughout the central region since the beginning of the war, and now that many workplaces have returned to normal, parents are in a bind because their children are still unable to attend school every day.

It is unclear whether the new directive returning the Tel Aviv area to “green” status will immediately mean all schools will be open, especially given the short notice of the change.

“Green” status means that in case of a rocket alarm, students and staff must be evacuated to “the most protected available space,” not necessarily a bomb shelter.

The Home Front Command has conducted a survey of all schools in the Tel Aviv area to find the most protected areas, besides the bomb shelters, where students and staff are to gather, the municipality said.

However, according to one Tel Aviv mother who spoke with the Times of Israel, her daughter attends an older elementary school in the city and there “is no safe space at all” for her to go in the case of a rocket attack. She also said that despite the notice from the municipality, the school did not plan to open as usual on Tuesday.

Her children, along with many more in the surrounding areas, have not been in school full-time since mid-September, before the Sukkot holiday, she said.

The Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality has said it has allocated NIS 50 million ($13.4 million) towards a project to construct more protected areas in schools, especially in municipal kindergartens, a project expected to be completed in February 2024.

Also on Monday, the Education Ministry announced a NIS 1 billion ($268 million) project to provide new schools and educational infrastructure for the communities evacuated from areas around Gaza, including Sderot.

About 30,000 students have been evacuated from these areas and are living in temporary housing of various kinds around the country with their families. The program aims to provide both immediate and long-term solutions to their educational needs, the ministry said.

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