Are missiles crippling Ashkelon's schools?

The News Item:

The Ashkelon Parents Committee late Sunday night called on the city's pupils to stay home Monday to protest the government's failure to fortify 130 schools - with 26,000 children - from rocket attacks. The committee voted on the measure, just one day after an advanced rocket launched from Gaza slammed into the courtyard of a technical high school in the coastal city, destroying classrooms and peppering walls with shrapnel.

Had the rocket fallen at 9 a.m. on a school day, instead of Saturday, when the building was closed, pupils would likely have been killed in the attack, according to the city's deputy mayor, Shlomo Cohen. "When there is a warning siren, there is nowhere to go," he told The Jerusalem Post. Still, he opposed the committee's decision, which he called premature, even though some 20 advanced Kassam and Grad rockets have fallen in his coastal city of 122,000 people in the last month - including one that hit south Ashkelon on Sunday. (full article on JPost)

A Parent's Response:

Below is a blog posting from Sigal of the 'Focus on Ashkelon' blog, whose kids are in Ashkelon's schools.

Last night we got a text message from the parents committee of one of our kids' school that there will be a strike tomorrow in all the schools in Ashkelon, except for 10th to 12th grade students who have final exams coming up soon. Saturday's grad rocket, an improved one that destroyed a high school, has changed all the rules. If this had happened on a school day, the results would have been horrible - it is a true miracle it was a Saturday !

So: The teachers will be at the classes, schools will be open, but the parents were asked to keep the kids at home. Each parent can decide what to do with his kids! OK, a dilemma, what should I do? I have 3 kids, each goes to a different school.

My youngest one, in 2nd grade, goes to a school without even minimal security from missiles. It's very old and the classrooms are unprotected. The kids hide under the tables when there's a siren or huddle next to a northern wall ... I had to go to work today, so I took her to her afternoon club -- it is now open in the mornings as well but we pay extra.

My son's school has sheltered areas, but he is in 8th grade and most of his friends are staying at home during the strike, so he doesn't want to be alone in the class. He stayed home, a day off ... My oldest goes to the Art school, again old buildings -- one shelter for 400 children! She is in 12th grade and her final tests are coming soon, so I took her to school, since she must study for the exams.

Shlomo Cohen, our deputy mayor, says the Municipality supports the parents, and joined their demand for the governement to fortify and shield all the educational institutes in Ashkelon. At the same time, he realizes that closing the schools paralyzes the entire city.

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