Bennett Approves COVID Plan for Beginning of Israel's School Year

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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An Israeli pupil wearing protective gear sanitises her desk upon return to school
An Israeli pupil wearing protective gear sanitises her desk upon return to school Credit: Emmanuel Dunand
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett approved on Sunday a plan for the beginning of the school year meant to allow schools to remain open as COVID-19 continues to spread around the country.

According to the plan, if exposed to a person infected with the coronavirus, teachers and students who have not been vaccinated or recovered will be given rapid antigen tests daily for a week.

During this time, they will not be required to quarantine and can continue going to school. If one of the rapid tests has a positive result, the individual will be given a PCR test. Only if this test has a positive result does quarantine become required. The plan does not require testing or quarantine for those who have been vaccinated or recovered.

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The plan, drawn up by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Health Ministry, and the Defense Ministry, includes three stages. In the first one, the government will conduct a serological survey to determine the students’ level of immunity and the number of students who have recovered from COVID. Those who have recovered will be exempted from the requirement to enter quarantine, even if they came into contact with a coronavirus carrier.

In the second phase, the rate of disease in the education system will be monitored to detect COVID outbreaks. Rapid coronavirus tests will be conducted once or twice a week for students living in coronavirus hot spots. Local authorities will be in charge of carrying out these tests.

Israeli pupils attend a class about health safety Credit: Jack Guez

The third phase of the plan has schools working on a local level to minimize the number of students required to quarantine: pupils who have not been vaccinated or recovered and have been exposed to someone infected will be given a rapid antigen test, while only classes with a high rate of infections will be required to quarantine. 

Israel's ultra-Orthodox's education system is set to open schools August 9, three weeks before the mainstream schools, without any COVID restrictions. Roughly 250,000 ultra-Orthodox children will return to full-sized classrooms with no rapid means to detect an outbreak. 

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