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EDUCATION

Israel's universities to stay virtual for time being

Grades 1-4 to open Sunday in capsules of no more than 20 students

Since the first lockdown in March, universities in Israel moved all classes to online platforms and will continue that way as the new semester begins.

The lockdown due to COVID-19 earlier this year has forced educational institutions worldwide, from elementary schools to university levels , to conduct classes online.

100% Online Teaching

Technion's Vice President and Director General, Prof. Boaz Golani, sent out a message to students before the starting of the new academic semester earlier this month.

"Since the semester will start with 100 percent online teaching, we will not force the academic staff to come to the campus to teach, but we shall certainly encourage them to do so and to use the classrooms that were recently equipped with state-of-the-art multi-media devices," he said.

Tertiary institutions adjusted swiftly to distance learning when it was suddenly mandated earlier this year.

Zoom has been to go-to platform for all ages and can simulate a virtual classroom. It allows students to "raise their hand," participate audibly or through a chat, share files and share their screen for presentations. Also, teachers can record the class and students can re-watch the lesson again if they missed something.

Teachers and professors have adapted to using Zoom and all of its features including using breakout rooms for small-group discussions. Tel Aviv University, Haifa University and Technion have even created Zoom manuals for their students on how to utilize the functions of the program fully.

Another program that universities have been using since the late 2000s is Moodle, a learning management system for educators to make and collect assignments, create threads for student discussion and more.

Though some universities like Technion encourage students who live off-campus to refrain from entering the university grounds, Hebrew University of Jerusalem has designated outdoor learning spaces throughout the campuses, installing additional electrical outlets and personal learning corners with access to the internet.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is also the only academic institution in Israel working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to provide testing centers on campus. The COVID-19 testing stations are open at the Mount Scopus campus on Sundays and Tuesday, the Safra campus on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the Ein Kerem Campus on Thursdays.

Hebrew University coronavirus testing center (Photo courtesy)

Grades 1-4 to open Sunday

Although universities in Israel have maintained the consistency of classes online the academic year, the coronavirus cabinet approved a plan for returning children in first through fourth grade to school on Sunday. The current plan is that children in grades one through four will each learn four days per week in capsules of no more than 20 students.
Illustration of an empty classroom at a school in Jerusalem on Otober 21 2020. (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The return to in-class learning for other grades will be voted on progressively every few weeks grade by grade with each successive grade approved only if national COVID infection levels remain low.

According to the current nine-phase lockdown plan, high school students are not expected to return to school until February, nearly one year after moving to online learning.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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