Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to announce Sunday evening that the current Israeli school year will be extended until the end of July, after 12 months of sporadic in-class learning due to the pandemic, sources familiar with the issue said.
But Ran Erez, the head of the Teachers' Union, said Sunday that schools would close on the scheduled date of June 20, "as previously agreed between the Education Ministry and the organization."
The sources also said that Netanyahu would use his 6:30pm press briefing to announce the return of all classes to school within one week and the allocation of a special budget to ensure coronavirus guidelines, such as capsule learning, were being upheld.
But Haim Bibas, the head of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel, told municipal leaders Sunday that schools would only reopen in "green" and "yellow" communities that have relatively low coronavirus infection rates.
"I am happy to announce that the federation's outline to fully reopen the education system in green and yellow communities will go up for a government vote on March 1 and is expected to pass," Bibas told local leaders ahead of a cabinet meeting set to take place Monday, where ministers were expected to approve the return of grades 7-10 to in-class learning.
"The return of all students to schools in green and yellow authorities is a crucial aspect in our mission to prioritize the lives of the children in the education system," he said.
"We will continue to work until every student in every city is back in school and ensure that no one is left behind," Bibas said.
Israel has been emerging from its third nationwide lockdown since early February, with some school students already returning and businesses reopening.
But coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash warned earlier Sunday that a further rise in the currently climbing R number could jeopardize the next steps to end restrictions, such as the return of children in grades 7-10 and the reopening of cafes and restaurants on March 7.