Israel Expands COVID Quarantine Exemption to All Schools, Preschools

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A child attends kindergarten Gedera, Israel, last month.
A child attends kindergarten Gedera, Israel, last month.Credit: Ilan Assayag

Israel will expand the pilot program that stresses rapid home testing for COVID-19 to all schools and day care centers in communities with moderate and low infection rates in a bid to avoid mass quarantines of school children.

The Health and Education Ministries will formulate a separate plan for communities with higher infection rates, classified as "Orange" and "Red" cities.

The Health Ministry recommended the move as serious coronavirus cases continue to drop.

This follows the success of the Green Class pilot program over the past two weeks, despite some parents' doubts about their small children's willingness to comply with testing.

After school hours, students who take part in the pilot program will not join multiple-participant activities with pupils who are not part of their class and will not be allowed to enter venues which abide by Green Pass restrictions.

Israel's coronavirus most recent death toll stands at 8,010, while the number of patients in serious condition continued to decline and now stands at 360, according to Health Ministry data released on Tuesday.

The number of new cases reported on Tuesday was 1,483, according to the ministry. There are now 161 people on ventilators, down from 168 a day earlier.  

The Health Ministry has not finished processing the data on the Green Class program, which was conducted in 247 schools in 19 communities, but ministry officials say the pilot, which was not conducted in preschools or day care centers, has proved itself.

Each local government will have an official responsible for storing and registering rapid antigen test kits, which will be distributed to any preschool suffering an outbreak. Already, every school has a coronavirus officer responsible for storing and distributing tests to classes stung by an outbreak.

To expand Green Class, the Health Ministry recently purchased about 30 million rapid test kits to be distributed at 3,000 points throughout the country. Most of the tests have already landed in Israel and distribution began last week. This comes on top of the 500,000 test kits distributed in the pilot.

According to the program, when a student is found to have COVID-19, the other children in the class must undergo a rapid test. Anyone confirmed as infected is then sent for a PCR test.

Under current procedure, children who test negative by the rapid test are not required to quarantine during school hours, but must isolate at home for the rest of the time. If the pilot is confirmed successful, this restriction may be lifted.

At the beginning of the pilot program on October 3, the number of confirmed cases among school children stood at about 20,000.

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