Israeli Plan Would Bring Kids Back to School, as Long as Enough Are Vaccinated Against COVID

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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A school in Jaffa, in February
A school in Jaffa, in FebruaryCredit: Hadas Parush
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The education and health ministries have agreed on a plan for remote learning in Israeli communities with high COVID infection rates, the government said Monday in a statement following a meeting between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton.

The proposal for grades 8-12, which is pending a legal review over concerns it would discriminate against unvaccinated students, stipulates that in-school learning will only be allowed for classes in which at least 70 percent of students are either fully vaccinated or have recovered from the coronavirus.

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Sources who attended Monday’s meeting also said it was highly likely that students will be vaccinated at schools, against the opinion of the education minister.

Schools principals said they were not given any information as to how to implement the new COVID-19 guidelines, which include the "green classroom" model. The model has all students and teachers tested for seven days if there's a confirmed case among them and only those found to be carriers would subsequently isolate, as opposed to the previous model which would have a whole class quarantine after a confirmed case.

Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash said earlier on Monday that if current infection rates don't go down "there will be no choice but to delay the beginning of the school year."

However, he added that there is an advantage to starting the school year September 1, as currently intended, as it will allow "experimentation with all the methods we want to introduce, such as quick tests, quarantining versus not quarantining, and gaining trust in serological tests."

On Sunday, 11,912 students and 1,324 teachers were confirmed as carriers of COVID-19, according to Education Ministry figures. Two weeks ago, 7,142 students and 777 teachers with the disease. Among students with COVID-19, some 36 percent are in seventh through twelfth grade, and about 60 percent are in elementary school.

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