Israeli Children to Head Back to School but at a Pandemic-conducive Distance

Deal reached with the Teachers Union will have primary and middle schoolers in distance learning amid an ongoing coronavirus crisis

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An empty school in Tel Aviv after Israel shut schools 11 months ago for the first coronavirus lockdown.
An empty school in Tel Aviv after Israel shut schools 11 months ago for the first coronavirus lockdown. Credit: Corinna Kern/Reuters

Distance learning will resume for primary and middle school pupils on Thursday, following agreements reached with the Teachers Union.

The agreement with the treasury calls for teachers to deliver lessons remotely until the end of next week, three days into the Passover holiday break. The teachers will not have to give back two days of frontal teaching at the expense of their holiday break, but rather return nine days of teaching during the summer holiday.

Union leaders will hold a tele-conference to ratify the agreement before formally instructing teachers to resume work. It is anticipated the the union will approve the agreement.

The deal will have high school teachers who do not teach in preparation for matriculation exams also having to teach for nine days over the summer.

In recent days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exerted pressure on both sides so that distance learning would resume.

The decision came at the end of a meeting of the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, Ronen Peretz, the director-general of the Finance Ministry Shai Babad, the director-general of the Education Ministry, Shmuel Abuav, Wages Commissioner Kobi Bar-Natan, and the general secretary of the Teachers Union, Yaffa Ben-David.

The union had instructed teachers not to collaborate with any Education Ministry initiative while the schools were closed as a measure to help curb the spread of a coronavirus pandemic.

“The ministries of education and finance abandoned us, sending us on a forced leave, so we won’t do distance teaching” said one of many messages sent by the union to teachers earlier in the week.