Education Minister Yoav Gallant announced Wednesday that schools will open in September under strict conditions to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
According to the Education Ministry plan, in-person classes, including at daycares and kindergartens and through high school, will be capped at 18 students. Most students will learn part of the time remotely online, with high school students only attending classes in person once a week.
Grades 1-4 will have regular classes but with no more than 18 students together in a room.
Kindergartens will be divided into two areas using a partition and funding will be provided for additional support staff.
“We want to implement ‘half classes,’” Gallant told reporters Wednesday. “We plan to preemptively open the school year this way. That means those who will give up, to a considerable extent, their [physical] presence at school will be the older students, and those who will come are the students whose presence in school is essential to the economy,” he continued, apparently referring to young children who can’t be left home alone while parents are at work.
He said all students will come into school at least once a week.
Gallant said he had approved three different frameworks to implement the plan and that guidelines may vary from community to community depending on local infection rates.
In order to provide the manpower needed for the extra learning sessions, retirees, soldiers from the IDF’s education units, university education students, unemployed educators and people with academic training will be brought in as teachers.
Setting up the education system to work under the proposed framework will cost NIS 2 billion ($583 million) and a further NIS 1 billion every month after that, Gallant said.
He said he will meet with treasury officials on Thursday to discuss the financing.
Schools were closed in mid-March, but almost all classes were okayed to return by the second week of May in a move that some policy experts have blamed for the resurgence of the virus in recent weeks. The government eventually clamped down on high school classes at the end of the school year, but has taken few steps to close or limit schools since then, allowing summer school to continue for lower grades.