With COVID on the Retreat, Israel to Reopen All Schools on Sunday

‘Capsule’ system of splitting classes scrapped, and if any student or teacher is infected, all teachers and students will be tested

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Students in a Tel Aviv school, last month. The subjects have no connection with the article.
Students in a Tel Aviv school, last month. The subjects have no connection with the article.Credit: Moti Milrod

All classes in the public school system will be reopened Sunday, the cabinet has decided.

In the schools, the “capsule” system of splitting classes will be scrapped, under the plan put forward by the Health Ministry and adopted by the cabinet Monday night.

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“After two weeks have passed with stability in the infection rate and with 95 percent of the country ‘green,’ including low rates of illness among children, the opening of the school system more broadly can move ahead, with extensive testing where a rise in infection is detected,” the Health Ministry said in a statement. Although children under 16 are not vaccinated, infection rates among children continue to fall, as does the general infection rate.

If a student or teacher is confirmed to have COVID, all students and teachers in his grade at school will be tested, and only after all those tests come back negative will they be able to return to school. However, they will not have to go into isolation if they came in contact with the infected individual.

The Health Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office said in a joint statement that at this time the informal education system and institutions of higher education will continue to operate as before. “Further lifting of restrictions in those cases will be studied next week,” the statement added.

The capsule system weighed heavily on the education system and prevented a return to full activity. Splitting classes into smaller groups required twice as many classrooms and teachers, or cutting school hours and reorganizing school bus transportation.

Capsules in the third grade were already done away with after the Passover break, and the Health Ministry wanted to gauge the impact of that step before extending the move to the other grades. On Thursday capsules were also abolished for the fourth grade. A source told Haaretz: “It looks like the Health Ministry already realizes that there’s no justification to continuing the capsule method.”

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