Israeli Parents Allowed to Enter Preschools With Children Despite Coronavirus Rules

Decision intended to help young children adjust to the new environment while observing coronavirus guidelines

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Preschoolers and their teacher in Givatayim, May 10, 2020.
Preschoolers and their teacher in Givatayim, May 10, 2020. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Parents of children in preschool and first grade will be permitted to enter their children’s classrooms during the first days of the school year to aid in their children’s adjustment, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced Sunday. The parents will be allowed into the classrooms in groups of up to six.

The decision, coming two days before the start of the school year, has the approval of coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu.

Parents who enter the classrooms will be required to maintain a distance of two meters from each other, to wear masks and observe hygiene rules. Parents will also be allowed to remain in the schoolyards. According to Edelstein’s announcement, teachers will be permitted to let parents to remain with their children beyond the first few adjustment days if it’s deemed necessary.

Edelstein wrote to the deputy director-general of the ministry, Prof. Itamar Grotto, that the decision balances between “Preventing coronavirus infections and the need to allow young children’s appropriate adjustment.” It takes into account that the risk of contagion in these frameworks is low, as indicated by “data from the Health Ministry, data from the world, and the fact that masks, maintaining distance and hygiene provide excellent protection against infection.”

“I’m pleased that we found a solution that protects the safety of children, parents and staff members, but won’t deprive parents of the right to become familiar with their children’s learning environment and the educational staff, and won’t deprive children of their parents’ presence when they need it most,” Edelstein said.

In recent days parent groups have been exerting pressure on the Health and Education Ministries, demanding that parents be allowed to accompany their children to class during the first days of school. The National Preschools Council, which represents parents of preschool-age children, announced it would consider calling a strike in preschools if parents were not allowed in.

This year there will be some 536,000 children in Israeli preschools, with 171,000 children entering first grade.

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