Israel's Home COVID-19 Tests Keep 180,000 Students in School

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Israeli children going to school, this week.
Israeli children going to school, this week.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Or Kashti

Some 8,000 students stayed at home last week after testing positive for the coronavirus in rapid antigen swab tests conducted at home and distributed to parents, the Education Ministry said Saturday evening. As a result, about 180,000 classmates were not forced into isolation.

Beginning Sunday, some 100,000 students in grades 8-12 in “red” communities, where infection rates are high, will shift to distance learning or classes held outdoors, the ministry said.

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There are currently 70 “red” communities, including Bat Yam, Bnei Brak, Hadera, Haifa, Holon, Netanya and certain neighborhoods in other communities.

Before the new school year began on Wednesday, the Education Ministry distributed some 1.9 million home test kits to parents of children in grades K-9.

Since testing was only recommended, not required, there’s no way to know how many tests were actually administered.

The 8,000 children who tested positive with the home tests were later given the regular PCR test.

According to ministry figures, 275 teachers and other school staff who have not been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 have refused to take a coronavirus test. Regulations approved last week bar such individuals from school grounds.

The High Court of Justice will hear the first petition against the regulations, submitted by the Secondary School Teachers Association, by the end of October.

According to the Education Ministry, approximately 37,000 teachers do not have a Green Pass certifying vaccination or recovery.

The ministry reported that about 100,000 students aged 12-18 were vaccinated over the past month, as well as an additional 4,500 since the start of the school year September 1.

About 40,000 out of the 400,000 children who took blood tests for the coronavirus were shown to have antibodies for the virus, making them eligible for the Green Pass and exempt from quarantine.

The Green Classroom pilot project, allowing students who have been exposed to an infected person to continue to go to school with daily testing, involves just seven classrooms in three schools. It is scheduled to expand to additional schools.

After an evaluation, in mid-October a decision will be made as to whether and how to further expand the program.

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