11th- and 12th-graders in South Going Back to Class

After two weeks of canceled classes, 12th and 11th graders in almost all the towns in the south are expected to return to their desks this week.

Education Ministry Director General Shlomit Amichai said that at least half of all 11th- and 12th-graders would return to school as early as today. She added that the ministry is looking into bringing back students in younger grades and will decide how to proceed based on the security situation.

The Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command decided to allow school to be held in towns within seven kilometers of the Gaza Strip, as long as class is held in properly protected structures.

In towns within seven to 40 kilometers, only 11th graders and 12th graders may attend school, and only in designated facilities. Army officers visited area schools last week in order to compile the list.

"We are teaching with the guarantee of the IDF," Amichai said last night. "There is not a single school on the list of approved institutions that was not personally visited and approved by Home Front Command officers."

Sderot is one of the towns whose entire education system will return to full activity tomorrow, in all the schools protected against Palestinian rockets. Protected kindergartens in the towns directly surrounding the Gaza Strip were cleared to resume class last week.

"Nearly all the heads of the regional councils of the western Negev support the decision to go back to class," Amichai added, "but we're not pressuring parents to send in their children if they don't feel it's safe just yet."