Hundreds of school principals from all across Israel called on Wednesday for the reopening of the education system once the nationwide coronavirus lockdown is lifted.
In a letter to the so-called Coronavirus Cabinet, which leads the government's response to the pandemic, educators claimed that the current outline for the reopening of the education system would cause much harm to the students.
"The plan to only relaunch learning for fifth graders and above after the holiday of Hanukkah [late December] and making middle and high school students study remotely until the end of the year is in our eyes neither moral nor educational and pushes education to the bottom of national agenda," the letter read.
"Leaving students home for a year and a half in total would cause them horrible and unjustifiable harm and trauma," said Jerusalem High School for the Arts Principal Tomer Belity-Dagan, who was one of the educators to initiate the letter. "This is a lost year and a half of stress, frustration, widening gaps between the strong and the weak, depression and suicidal tendencies."
According to Belity-Dagan, students can return to school if everyone adheres health regulations.
"This is not an irresponsible call to lift the lockdown prematurely, quite the opposite. We are asking to bring back kindergartens and schools in a responsible manner by adopting the principles for opening education systems from around the world and drawing lessons from previous experience in Israel."
According to the suggested outline, kindergarten students and lower classes would come to school every day in fixed groups and teaching staff would get tested often for coronavirus.
Principals also called to incorporate at least three days a week of learning in classrooms and distance learning and while reducing contact between middle and high school students to a bare minimum.
This can be achieved by changing the curriculum and reducing the amount of material for matriculation exams. Principals stressed that teachers and students who belong to at-risk groups will learn from home and receive support.
Pre-school teachers also expressed their discontent with the government's proposed outline.
"Opening kindergartens under the existing conditions endangers teachers and their families and we will not support it," the director of the pre-school department at the Teachers' Union Anat Dadon wrote. "You are abandoning the kindergarten teachers who pay a heavy price from these quarrels between the ministers of education, health and finance. The opening of kindergartens will see the economy relapsing very quickly to a third lockdown. How can we take care of 35 children and observe social distancing? "