Israel’s school system will close Thursday, the government ruled on Wednesday, as the infection rate hit a peak of 5,523 new cases in a single day.
The schools were originally supposed to shut down on Friday, together with the rest of the lockdown. Special education and programs for youth-at-risk will continue to operate.
The move came at the request of coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu, who sent a letter to Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Education Minister Yoav Galant on Tuesday asking them to close schools immediately.
“The government made the wrong decision, against professional recommendations,” Gamzu said in his letter to the ministers. “Moreover, we are seeing a spike in infection in general and specifically among the general public.”
The Health Ministry reported that there are 535 people hospitalized in serious condition, including 138 on ventilators. The death toll rose to 1,147.
According to Gamzu, the spike of new cases is particularly centered on schoolchildren, especially those 10 and up.