Health Ministry DG: School Won’t Start Just Yet

YERUSHALAYIM -
A closed school in Tzfas, as part of preventive measures amid fears over the spread of the coronavirus. (David Cohen/Flash90)

With Pesach past, Israelis have begun looking forward to the possibility that the current near-closure of the economy could be ended – but even if more workers are allowed to go back to their jobs, they will have to make their own arrangements for child care. That’s because it’s unlikely that schools will be reopening “in the near term,” Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Simantov told Yediot Acharonot Thursday.

Reports Thursday said that a number of European countries, including Spain, Germany, and Austria had begun the process of reopening shops and offices, and Bar Simantov said that “Israelis are looking at those countries as models for what should happen here. But at this time no country has allowed students to return to school. Even South Korea, which has emerged as the country everyone is looking at in these matters, has not returned to normal routines. I think we have to wait until the next phase to discuss opening the schools.”

The government was set to meet Thursday to discuss the next steps in dealing with coronavirus. The Economy Ministry, according to reports, is insisting on reopening the economy on Sunday to the point where half of the Israeli workforce is allowed to return to their jobs; currently only 15% of workers are at their jobs.

The Health Ministry believes that Sunday is too soon for such an influx of workers. Bar Simantov said that decisions on the return to work and school will be made by political officials, but “taking into consideration that children can quickly get infected and infect others, we need to wait to see if the initial steps we take do not create a waver of infections.”

With that, he said, “we can say that the picture has now stabilized. We need to see stability in the infection numbers for several days after the holidays to see if there have not been additional infections. If there are not we will see a real change in the situation in the coming days. We are also seeing stabilization in the number of seriously ill people, which by itself is important,” he added.