בית ספר בירושלים
An archive picture showing students in Jerusalem during COVID
Photo: EPA
Teacher's Union head Yafa Ben-David

Teacher's Union chief says she 'doesn't understand' school year outline

With less than 24 hours to go until reopening of schools, Yaffa Ben-David slams government outline, saying not enough has been done to guarantee students and teachers' safety; adds Education Ministry ignored advice of health professionals

Alexandra Lukash |
Published: 08.31.21, 14:52
Teacher's Union chief Yafa Ben-David on Tuesday lambasted the government's outline for reopening of schools, saying she "doesn't understand" the new rules.
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  • Despite the surge of COVID cases boosted by the highly infectious Delta strain, the Israeli government on Monday approved the final draft of an outline enabling the reopening of the country's schools from September 1.
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    יפה בן דויד
    יפה בן דויד
    Teacher's Union head Yafa Ben-David
    (Photo: Hadar Yoavian)
    According to the outline, teachers who do not present a Green Pass will not be able to teach in class unless they get tested for coronavirus once every two weeks.
    "We know that the school year opens on Wednesday. I do not know what will happen to teachers who will not agree to be vaccinated or tested,” Ben-David told Ynet.
    “[The Education Ministry] said they would not let these teachers into schools and the coronavirus cabinet decided that staffers who do not have a Green Pass will not be able to enter educational institutions. There are talks about either furloughing them or placing them on vocational leave."
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    בית ספר בירושלים
    בית ספר בירושלים
    An archive picture showing students in Jerusalem during COVID
    (Photo: EPA)
    Ben-David also slammed the requirement to have students undergo COVID testing before September 1 but only at the parents’ consent. “It’s weird, the government invested millions in these tests, and now it does nothing but asks the parents to simply play along.”
    The union head also slammed the remarks made by Sharren Haskel - the head of the ministerial Education, Culture, and Sports Committee - who said it was "inconceivable" that parents would not send their sick children to school.
    “With all due respect, those who are not part of the education system are not aware of the mess that was created a year and a half ago, when parents were forced to sign countless health forms each and every day.
    “Due to the lack of enforcement we have no choice but to call on the parents to, first and foremost, take care of their own children's health, but to also take into account the health of other children,” Ben-David added.
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    בדיקות נוגדנים לילדים באור יהודה
    בדיקות נוגדנים לילדים באור יהודה
    A child undergoing a test to determine her COVID antibody levels
    (Photo: Dana Kopel)
    The Teacher’s Union added, however, that "there isn’t much choice,” but to reopen schools and what's important is the manner in which it is done.
    “It was either a widespread reopening or a lockdown… It is better to open the education system and make do with what we have. The best protection would have been smaller classes, but the government failed to take this into account,” she said.
    Ben-David added she vehemently disagrees with Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton who fought against studies in smaller groups, despite the recommendations of health experts.
    “How can it be that when professionals from the Health Ministry make it clear that small classes are a must, they are simply ignored?” said the union chief. “A year and a half ago, these professionals promised that what they were warning us about will eventually happen, and yet here we are.”
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    יפעת שאשא ביטון ויגאל סלוביק בועדת החינוך
    יפעת שאשא ביטון ויגאל סלוביק בועדת החינוך
    Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton
    (Photo: Knesset PR)
    According to Ben-David, the blame for the alleged oversight at least partially lies with Shasha-Biton, who decided to focus her efforts elsewhere.
    “She has her own, consistent agenda. In my opinion the issue of whether or not to vaccinate students in schools took a lot of time.
    “They dragged it and put the focus on the issue as if it was the very essence of the education system, instead of dealing with what matters: Giving sufficient resources to school administrators," she said.
    “I did not come here to defend the Education Minister, but she is subjected to a lynching because there are also restrictions imposed on her, such as budgets.”

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