Over 2,4 million Israeli children began a new school year on Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the majority having to study remotely this year due to health restrictions.
The beginning of the school year had been clouded with uncertainty over the surging COVID-19 infection rate and a possibility that bringing children back to school will lead to another mass outbreak.
Coronavirus cabinet voted late on Monday that schools in 23 "red" cities and communities, where the COVID-19 infection rate is exceptionally high, will remain closed. The decision leaves more than 140,000 children of all ages at home. The ministers are set to hold another debate on whether to reopen schools in those areas on Thursday.
In addition, another 10,000 children will not start their school year as planned over logistical problems at their respective education facilities and parent struggles.
According to the latest statistics, some 169,000 children have begun the primary education by entering the first grade, while 132,000 have started their last year of school.
Parents have been asked to fill out a declaration of health for their child ahead of bringing him or her to school, which can be done either online or at the entrance to the school building. Some parents, however, reported the digital widget where the declaration is meant to be filled, has crashed.
According to the Education Ministry's outline, kindergartens, first and second grades will operate as usual with children attending classes at least five times a week.
Third and fourth grades will be split into groups of 18 children, who will be attending classes physically at least five times a week. Fifth and sixth grades will also be split into groups of 18, but the children will only be attending in-class studies twice a week and studying remotely the rest of the time.
From seventh grade and up, children will also be split into groups of 18, with in-class studies only be possible twice a week. Each student will be required to wear a mask during studies and school breaks, with only one child sitting at each desk.
Children from tenth grade and up are allowed fo fill out their own declaration of health.