JERUSALEM — Many children across Israel's capital city went to bed excited on Wednesday night knowing that the following morning they would be packing their school books and heading back to classroom learning for the first time in more than one month.
They awoke to a different reality, however.
"Due to the lack of clarity between the coronavirus cabinet's decision last night and the instructions given this morning by the Home Front Command and in the afternoon by the Ministry of Health on the issue of orange neighborhoods, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion announces that studies in the city, in all neighborhoods, will not open tomorrow until the city gets clear directives from the Ministry of Health and the coronavirus cabinet regarding the orange neighborhoods in the city," the city spokesman said in a message sent out Wednesday night.
The reversal meant a return to online learning indefinitely for all students in Jerusalem.
The original plan was to map out the sprawling city by neighborhoods thereby allowing "green" and "yellow" neighborhoods to have some sort of in-classroom schooling for kindergarten to grade 4 and 11th and 12th grades. The complications arose over the rules for "orange" cities. For orange cities, at least 70 percent of residents aged 50 and up would have to be vaccinated in order for schools to open.
However, most “orange” cities don’t meet the criteria.
The disparity and confusion over the last-minute decision - plus the complicated rules of returning to school - apparently caused the municipality to cancel altogether.
Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky said schools in "red" Haredi districts would be in session until the government came up with a plan. While the schools in these neighborhoods have largely operated by their own rules anyway, Kanievsky accused the government of "abandoning" children.
“Millions of Israeli children have been at home for a year, in both spiritual and mental danger, and an immediate solution must be found to bring them back to school as quickly as possible while maintaining health rules,” he said.
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS