School Reopenings in Doubt as British Variant Spreads

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Minister of Education Yoav Galant. (Avshalom Shoshoni/Flash90)

The reopening of Israeli schools planned for next week will likely be delayed due to the difficulty in containing the British strain of the coronavirus, The Times of Israel said on Tuesday.

Education Minister Yoav Gallant, who has often pushed for reopenings ahead of other ministers, has expressed more caution this time.

“The mutations have changed the rules of the game. I do not want to take on anything related to childhood illness,” Gallant said, according to Army Radio. He had previously been in favor of reopening schools and kindergartens in the first stage of the easing of the lockdown, but now is said to be reviewing the matter with medical experts.

Israeli health officials are concerned that the British strain is causing high levels of infection in children and young people, as well as serious illness in a number of expectant mothers.

Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health at the Health Ministry, said on Monday that there was a rise in infections in children aged six to nine, the first age group to return to the classroom after previous lockdowns.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz meanwhile warned that he would block any discussion of ending the lockdown until Thursday, to allow time for analysis of recent data.