Jerusalem: Israel on Sunday allowed primary and secondary school students to return to their classrooms despite opposition from several municipalities, which refused to open educational centres until coronavirus prevention measures were guaranteed.
Municipalities including Tel Aviv, Beersheva, Haifa and Hadera have asked for more time to prepare schools, reports Efe news.
Students returned to classrooms in other parts of the country, all wearing masks and with measures to maintain a physical distance with their classmates.
The Israeli government approved on Friday a plan to gradually resume education from Sunday, which is a working day in the country.
This has created some confusion among parents and reluctance in local administrations, with some criticising the decision as hasty.
The Education Ministry allowed students from six to nine years old and from 16 to 18 to return to classrooms.
Pre-schools are due to reopen in a week and the rest of the country’s pupils will return to classes from June, according to the plan.
Ultra-Orthodox schools, which have seen the highest number of infections in the country, will only have students aged between 12 and 18 years old allowed to return.
Attendance has not been made compulsory and teachers over 65 years old or with health conditions which put them at a higher risk of the virus will be able to opt out.
The reopening of schools was part of a rapid de-escalation programme recently launched by authorities, the country has already reactivated a lot of its economic activity and has eased restrictions on the movement of the population.
Many shops have reopened and the government is preparing a phased plan to resume more social and economic activity.
There have been more than 16,100 confirmed cases in Israel, of which more than half have recovered.
Officials announced the lowest number of infections on Sunday since March with 41 new cases reported in the last 24 hours.
A total of 230 people have died from the virus in the country, which has a population of 8.8 million, and 82 patients were being treated on respirators, much lower numbers than in many European countries.