Under Shadow of Coronavirus, Israeli High School Students Take First Matriculation Exam

Out of 10,000 students, some 400 could not attend as they were in quarantine

Shira Kadari-Ovadia
Shira Kadari-Ovadia
Students sitting their bagrut exam in a high school in Tel Aviv, June 22, 2020.
Students sitting their bagrut exam in a high school in Tel Aviv, June 22, 2020. Credit: Meged Gozny
Shira Kadari-Ovadia
Shira Kadari-Ovadia

Some 10,000 students took the chemistry matriculation (bagrut) test on Monday, the first bagrut test to be held under the restrictions brought about by the coronavirus.

The number of pupils in each classroom was restricted to 19, and they were required to don masks and abide by other Health Ministry restrictions. Some 400 students could not attend as they were in isolation. The Ministry of Education announced that it would allow them to take the exam at a later date, which has not been set yet.

Twelfth-grader Michal Weiss from Lehavim went into quarantine last Friday after a boy scout in a group she leads was found to have been infected. “I expected the Education Ministry to come up with creative solutions,” her mother told Haaretz. “During the election they had polling stations for people in isolation; they could have found a similar solution here too, such as using isolated classrooms or taking the test at home, supervised through Zoom, or using a regular class grade instead of the test.”

Michal continued studying up to the last moment, hoping an appeal she made to the Health Ministry against her enforced isolation would be accepted, but it was denied. She’s worried she won’t be able to make use of an alternate date since she’s being drafted early in August.

Overall, 190,000 11th- and 12th-graders are expected to take these tests. Because of the coronavirus, they are being held later than usual and will end late in July. The number of tests has been curtailed, with only three to five tests taken in compulsory subjects, not the usual seven. In non-compulsory subjects, a grade based on regular tests and year-long assignments will be used.

The Education Ministry says 3,000 students will not be able to take the tests since they are in quarantine.