The Education Ministry estimates that there will be some 5,000 students infected with COVID-19 each day by the time the school year begins on September 1, but has no plans to alter the regulations that have been decided upon.
Meanwhile, a meeting between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and top officials on Tuesday led to a set of recommendations that will be presented to the coronavirus cabinet for approval on Wednesday. If the recommendations are approved, Israelis will have to present proof of immunity or a negative test result before entering the overwhelming majority of indoor spaces, including swimming pools, gyms, museums, libraries, restaurants, and hotels. This will apply to everyone aged three and up. Children aged three to 12 will be given state-funded tests, while those 12 and older will have to pay for their own COVID tests if they have chosen not to be vaccinated.
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The Education Ministry's estimate is based on the assumption that the R number – the average number of people each COVID carrier will infect – does not fall within the next three weeks. An Education Ministry source said that officials expect there to be 10,000 new cases a day nationwide, with about half of these being students.
Antibody tests will be given to approximately 1.4 million students aged between three and 12 in August, and antigen tests will be given to 1.9 million students and 270,000 teachers in the days before schools reopen, the source said. There are 2.4 million students in Israel, and ultra-Orthodox schools reopened on Sunday without any restrictions.
A plan for reopening schools next month was approved by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday. 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.
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The source further said that if there is a high rate of illness at a particular school, the school principal will be authorized to make a decision on a method to reduce contact.
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.
The Education Ministry is determined to fully open schools on September 1, despite a Health Ministry demand that the situation must be reassessed closer to that date. According to the current plan, schools will also be opened in locations defined as having a high rate of infection, where principals will be required to find ways to reduce contact between students, such as splitting classes into pods, holding classes outdoors, or a partial return to remote learning.