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Gaza – Ma’an – Students in Gaza went back to school on Saturday as public and UNRWA schools reopened after a one month suspension resulting from Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip.
Thousands of students were seen heading to class throughout the Strip. Some of the schools have been repaired by the de facto Education Ministry and UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees.
Israel’s bombing destroyed 35 public schools out of 384 facilities, which serve 250,000 students. Israel also damaged several UN schools. At the Fakhoura School in Jabaliya, Israeli shelling killed some 50 Palestinians who had taken shelter in the school. During the height of the war, tens of thousands of Gazans took refuge in UNRWA schools across Gaza.
Schools in the northern Gaza Strip were targeted by Israeli forces more than other area. In the north, 24 schools were completely destroyed and only 10 of these schools have been repaired.
Students who used to study at the destroyed schools were distributed to other schools which will operate two or three shifts.
Because of the reduced amount of classroom space, schools will have to merge two or three classes together, raising class sizes to 120 students in some cases, the Education Ministry says.
As students sit down for class, many of them discovered that their classmates have been killed, injured, or disabled.
The Education Ministry and UNRWA asked teachers to dedicate the first week of school to psychological support in order help children recover from the trauma of 23 days of total war. Teachers have been advised to let students talk about what they experienced with teachers and fellow students.
They were also given directives on how to treat families that are still living in schools temporarily after their homes were destroyed.
Families now residing in UN schools complained of bad living conditions, especially after resumption of classes, appealing to the government and humanitarian organizations to provide them with tents or other places to live.