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Israel Shuts Schools on Thursday, a Day Ahead of National Lockdown, Angering Parents

Israel Shuts Schools on Thursday, a Day Ahead of National Lockdown, Angering Parents
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Thursday, 17 September, 2020, 21:30

Because of the spike in infection rates, the cabinet decided in a phone vote to shut down all schools beginning Thursday, even though the lockdown begins only on Friday.
The cabinet thereby accepted the recommendation made by the Health Ministry and coronavirus chief Prof. Ronni Gamzu. The school closure will include kindergartens and nursery schools, but exclude institutions catering to children with special needs, as well as allowing for a few other exceptions.

The daily report issued Wednesday by the research center for combating the coronavirus indicated a significant rise in infection rates among 14-to-19-year-olds, apparently stemming from the opening of schools.
Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kish told Kan Bet public radio Wednesday, “You shouldn’t expect a significant decrease in infection rates” following Israel’s three-week lockdown, set to go into effect on Friday. “I’m starting to worry,” he said, adding that this lockdown “won’t be like the lockdown we know,” but instead would limit commerce, entertainment and leisure activities.

According to Kish, those who want to defy lockdown orders “will find an excuse” to do so, and the main goal of it is to prevent a renewed surge during the Jewish High Holy Days.


The government’s decision evoked much criticism among parents. “Each day with no school is one more day in which children are cut off from a framework they were just getting used to,” said Shachar, a mother to a first-grader in the Tel Aviv area, told Haaretz. “Decisions change from moment to moment. I don’t have to suffer from the government’s indecisiveness. We’re being played like yo-yos,” she said. “How can parents get ready from one day to the next?” wrote another mother on a Facebook group.
Another one wrote: “They’ve driven us crazy, it’s a disgrace.” Other parents protested the inequality in the lockdown regulations. “They’re only closing schools,” wrote one mother. “Everything else is excluded. It’s even permitted to demonstrate.”

A national organization of parents of kindergarten children called for a boycott of remote learning during the lockdown, and asking for extra school days later this year. In its announcement, the organization wrote that remote learning is unfeasible, since not all kindergarten children or their teachers have computers. The organization adds that with online learning, “preschool children cannot enjoy social and emotional connections and parents cannot work. They therefore choose not to use the Zoom option.”