Education Minister Naftali Bennet (Bayit Yehudi) said that the new year has begun as usual, and only noted minor disruptions. He also spoke about his desire whereby there will be less than 30 students per classroom in first and second grades.
"Since the state was founded, the standard has been to have 40 students per class. We then set an upper limit whereby there would be up to 34 students per class, and 32 in weaker communities."
Only a few schools aren't starting on Thursday. Two schools in Jerusalem – Beit Ya'akov in the Neve Ya'akiv neighborhood and Beit Ya'akov in the Givat Shaul neighborhood – will open on Sunday due to repairs being done to the buildings. Other schools which aren't starting today are in Kiryat Motzkin – where the school will only have three first grade classes as opposed to four and the parents have instituted a strikes – and in Tira and Segev Shalom.
Additional schools not opening are in Tira, Daburriya, Kafr Kuseife, Kiryat Atta, and Rehovot.
Approximately 180,000 educators work in the Israeli school system, including 9,000 of whom who are teaching for the first time; 4,000 will be primary school teachers, 2,600 will be high school teachers, and 1,300 will be kindergarten teachers. About 7,500 of the new teachers are women.
The new school year will start under the theme of "United Jerusalem," and will include several statements by the education minister himself.
The new school year will see a new initiative to improve English education, and will see several of the Biton Commission recommendations be put into place. There will also be more classes in high school about the history of Jews of Arab decent. Students will also tour development towns and Moshavs.
Education Minister Bennet said in his year opening statement to Israeli students that "we've worked hard over the last summer and we're well prepared. Starting last year, we've made a sharp turn to try to make the education system more personalized via smaller class sizes, teachers' aides, a revolution in teaching math, and with national programs in English language instruction. We did all of this in conjunction with the Biton Commission to connect the different sectors of Israeli nation, and in conjunction with the Year of Jerusalem, which will begin soon.
Shahar Hai, Roi Yanovski, Ahiye Raved, Ilana Curiel, Hassan Shaalan, and Reut Rimerman contributed to this story.