While several hundred thousand Israeli children went back to school on Thursday for the first time in over a month, many parents had mixed feelings as most students continued to study remotely amid confusion over the government's outline.
The coronavirus cabinet, which leads the government's response to the pandemic, voted earlier in the week to reopen preschools, grades 1-4 and 11-12 and technical colleges in both areas with low COVID-19 infection rates as well as virus hotspots where at least 70% of citizens of over the age of 50 have been vaccinated.
Municipalities that don't answer the set criteria for reopening, will be allowed to conduct in-person studies in small groups of up to nine students outdoors. Those who choose or unable to conduct studies outdoors, due to wintry weather or logistics, will continue to study remotely.
Preschools will be open six days a week according to their regular schedule and afternoon child care facilities will return to operate five days a week.
The move was met with a backlash from officials in the education system, who accused the decision makers of being "disconnected" from reality and not understandings the logistics of teaching outdoors.
Local authorities across the country, admit that their main goal is not teaching but addressing the children's social needs after being removed from an organized educational framework for an extended period of time.
"I'm not at peace with going back to school, but neither with [the children] staying home," said Michal Pitel, a worried mother from Mevasseret Zion. "The social aspect is more important to me than the educational aspect right now and that is why I am sending my child [to school] today."
Regina Avraham, principal of Yigal Alon School in Givatayim, was excited to welcome back the students but was worried the education system would be shuttered again in the near future if coronavirus morbidity rises again.
"I do not know how long it will last, but we miss the children so much and they had a very hard time at home," Avraham said. "We want to see them, their eyes, see them running around here during recess. We will do everything possible to keep everyone healthy, so as not to send them home again.
"We are opening for the third time this year and are already very-well practiced at this. The children know they have to wear masks and wash their hands. However, some parents decided to leave their kids home. They will also get convinced eventually and will probably come back in a day or two."