Emanuele Dalla Torre

Most Israeli parents want to send their kids to school – at any price

Daily new confirmed cases in Israel in the last six months. In August, the average number is stable at around 1500.

What do parents in Israel think about school reopening? Two petitions on the subject have been recently published on the website and signed by about 800 parents (in total). It’s still a small number with respect to the 2.5 million kids that go back to school today in Israel, but this is probably a representative quorum. The petitions express the feelings of most Israeli parents: school must be opened, at any price.

The first petition included three requests: to allow parents to enter into the school; to allow kids not to wear masks in school; to open all classes five days a week (according to the current guidelines, high schools will have only two days of in-person teaching, and the rest via zoom). The message is clear: we are not afraid of the coronavirus and we want our kids to experience school as usual.

The second petition demands that high schools give on-line teaching only. Here the message is opposite: the coronavirus is dangerous and, where possible, one should substitute in-person teaching with zoom lectures. According to the promoters of this second petition, “Israel is like a poor family who can barely pay their bills. But when a bank offers them to take a loan to finance a dream vacation, they accept. Perhaps the vacation will let them feel better for a few days, but how are they going to repay the loan and the interest? In terms of coronavirus, Israel can barely pay the bills. In the last month, the number of new cases is very high (1500 per day) and refuses to decrease. Reopening schools will bring to a surge in the number of infections and threaten the public health systems.”

The most interesting detail is the number of people who signed the two petitions. Right now, it’s 627 for the first petition and 133 for the second. These numbers tell us that only one family out of five is afraid of sending their kids to school. “Only one out of five people who accessed the webpage of my petition, actually signed it”, we are told by the promoters of the petition demanding not to open in-person classes. Most parents are ready to take a risk, so that their kids can go to school, learn and socialize. We only need to hope that the interest rates will not be too high.

About the Author
Emanuele grew up in a Jewish family in Italy and moved to Israel at the age of 19. He studied Physics at Technion and at Weizmann Institute of Science. Emanuele also did research at Harvard University in the US and is now a professor of Physics at Bar-Ilan University.
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