Almost one million Israeli children are returning to school this week, having spent over a month and a half at home in the lockdown that Israel established to battle coronavirus.
Authorities in Israel have decided to reintroduce children to schools gradually to try and maintain coronavirus health and safety regulations. This means that the 960,000 children returning to school this week do not include children from all grades or municipalities.
Instead, almost 500,000 first to third graders are the first to return to their classrooms. They will study for five hours a day, five days a week in groups of up to 17 children, as opposed to longer days and a six-day week in larger classes in corona-free times.
Joining them are some 200,000 11th and 12th graders who are preparing for their upcoming matriculation exams, also in groups of up to 17.
Students in the fourth to 10th grades will be staying at home until authorities are satisfied with the results of the initial wave of reintroduction.
Special-education schools are set to welcome this week around 80,000 students from the ages of three to 21, joining the 60,000 special-needs students who returned at an earlier date. They too will have a shorter school day.
In the separate ultra-Orthodox school system, 127,000 students from the seventh to 12th grade are set to return to school this week. Younger students will remain at home. Preschoolers across the country are also remaining at home for the time being,
Not all municipalities and regional authorities are opening their schools. Tel Aviv, Haifa, Bnei Brak and all the Arab municipal authorities, among others, are keeping their schools shuttered. Some are doing so out of concern for heightened risk in their area, while others have said that they did not have enough time to prepare for the reopening.
Such preparations include, for example, identifying teachers who themselves are at greater risk of catching coronavirus due to their age or health condition, or teachers with young children who are unable to leave home, as well as disinfecting schools and setting up alternative timetables.