School year will start on schedule in Israel, despite high COVID-19 stats

August 23, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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The school year in Israel will open on Wednesday, September 1, the Corona Cabinet decided Sunday night, amid the country’s fourth Coronavirus (COVID-19) wave.

Israeli students on their first day of the new school year in the shadow of COVID-19. Or Yehuda, Sep 1, 2020. Photo by Eitan Elhadez-Barak/TPS

The meeting touched on a number of issues, including opening the education system in a safe and orderly manner, while balancing the needs of the economy with the epidemiological needs.

The ministers did not vote unanimously, and some believed that opening the school year at this point would be dangerous and exacerbate an already difficult situation.

On the last day, 70 students and seven educational staff members were found to be positive to COVID-19. 1,567 students and 164 teachers went into quarantine in the past 4 hours. In total, there are 32,847 students and 3,033 educational staff in quarantine at this time.

However, the education system will operate as usual, and students will be vaccinated on school grounds during school hours, subject to parental approval.

In Red cities, in which the infections rate is high, classes in grades 8 – 12 will be held online if less than 70% of students in a class are vaccinated.

On the first day of school, students up to the age of 12 will be required to present proof they performed an antigen test that had a negative result.

Teaching staff in kindergartens and schools are all required to be vaccinated or will be required to be tested on a regular basis.

The first days of the school year are expected to be rocky and even chaotic, with large numbers of students and staff being sent home to quarantine, and others being tested positive for the virus.

Israel is currently ranked third in the world in the number of newly verified cases in relation to the size of the population, outranked only by Georgia and Kosovo.

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