Israel sending some kids back to school as coronavirus cases drop


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli children in kindergarten through third grade will return to the classroom beginning Sunday — if their country doesn’t see a significant rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

The plan, approved Monday by a panel of Cabinet members from the relevant ministries and the Prime Minister’s Office, will require final government consent. A review of the situation and a vote is expected Friday.

Israel has seen the number of daily cases decline in recent days.

On Sunday, the country allowed the opening of many non-essential businesses, including retail stores not located in malls and hairdressers.

Under the school plan, first- through third-graders will attend classes five days a week, for five hours a day, with only 15 students per class. Desks will be placed six feet apart and students will not be permitted to touch each other. Staff and children in second and third grade must wear face masks.

Preschools and kindergartens will open three days a week with a limited number of kids per classroom.

Israeli schools have been closed since mid-March. Students have been attending classes via distance learning with varying degrees of success.

As of Tuesday night there were 208 deaths and 15,589 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.

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