Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday that Israel will be extending the current school year until the end of July in order to make up for the studies missed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Netanyahu made the announcement during a press conference with Education Minister Yoav Galant and other government officials, emphasizing the school year set to be extended for everyone, starting from preschools to grade 11 in high schools.
It appears, however, the school year will not be extended for children in grade 12 seemingly in order not to delay their draft to the IDF.
The premier added the outline detailing measure has yet to be fully formulated or agreed upon with the Teachers' Union.
"The education minister and I are bringing you an outline for the extension of the school year until the end of July," Netanyahu said. "We must ensure that all children are given an opportunity to make up what they missed.
He said he will personally make sure the teaching staff are compensated for the extra time they will have to work.
We will ensure teachers' rights, all will be paid for this, I will make sure of it. I take full responsibility for this with the education and finance ministers. This is what the children of Israel need and deserve."
Netanyahu also touched on the coronavirus vaccination drive, saying Israel is planning to purchase or produce at least 36 million more vaccines in the next year. "We do not know how long exactly the [effects of the] vaccines last. The vaccination certificate says six months but it could be longer. We must be prepared for a less optimistic option," he said.
Galant for his part said said that the extra month of learning in July will mainly focus on making up for gaps in the school curriculum in core subjects such as English and Math.
Finance Minister Israel Katz said that in order to advance the outline, NIS 2.4 billion will be allocated for the Education Ministry and NIS 20 billion for the health system.
Ran Erez, the head of the Teachers' Union, said that the school year for high schools will end as scheduled on June 20, but called on teachers to continue teaching in July. "It will be voluntary work with pay, those who will not teach - will not face any punishment," he said.
Director of the Teachers' Association Yaffa Ben-David and the National Student and Youth Council both announced that they will object the extension once it is tabled for approval.
Earlier Sunday, Haim Bibas, the head of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel, told municipal leaders that schools will 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.