By Ruthi Soudack
The Israeli Ministry of Education announced that students in 11th and 12th grades would be returning to school as of Tuesday, May 5th. The returning students are those studying for matriculation exams at high schools in the Society for Advancement of Education network for whom face-to-face learning and reinforcement is critical. Students in other grades will continue distance learning from their homes.
Ministry of Education guidelines stipulate that students must study in small groups, with a maximum of 17 students, with each group situated in a separate area. The groups are fixed, and students cannot transfer from one group to another. As far as possible, each group will have a consistent cadre of teachers that is exclusive to the group, however, if this is not possible due to subject-specific teaching required for matriculation exams, teachers can teach up to four groups.
The ministry circular states that students’ parents, as well as staff members, must complete and submit a daily health declaration, which includes confirming temperature, lack of appearance of potential coronavirus symptoms, and lack of contact with a diagnosed coronavirus carrier over the previous two weeks.
Additionally, students will sit at separate desks, and are required to maintain a two-meter distance between one another at all times (including when entering and leaving the school yard), and to wear facemasks when in public areas. The school must be sanitized in preparation for students’ return, and then on a daily basis, with bathrooms sanitized several times a day. The school is required to ensure that there is an adequate supply of soap and paper towels in each bathroom, and that hand-sanitation stations be spread throughout the school.
Study will be focused exclusively and intensively upon preparation for matriculation exams, and each school will determine the study format that is most suitable for it, although most are opting for concentrated days on one or two subjects. Dror High School, pluralistic religious track school, opened on Sunday, May 3rd, as it was already adequately prepared.
Reopening educational residences involves a number of complex challenges, and solutions are being sought. However, thus far, residences will not be reopening and the students will continue with distance learning until the situation is clarified and measures that enable opening the residences are put into place. The status of schools with residences is also presently unclear, among them the Sindiana – The Arab Youth Village for Leadership, whose students and staff are currently observing the month of Ramadan, during which they fast all day.
The SAE and each school’s administration are in ongoing contact with the Ministry of Education, which issues directives based on Ministry of Health stipulations.
Many SAE students from low-income families do not have a laptop computer at home with which to participate in distance learning while some schools and all residences remain closed. SAE will be providing up to 60 laptops for students, and welcomes donations to offset the cost of this unanticipated, but vital, COVID-19 related expenditure. Donate safely online here.