Fourth Coronavirus Wave Hangs Over School Reopenings

Students seen at the classroom in Efrat, November 24, 2020, after the government approved the return of grades 7-8 under the Coronavirus restrictions. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

As the government tries to finalize plans for a school year opening as close to normal as possible, the latest coronavirus figures threaten to undo the plans.

With the new school year a month away, Education Ministry figures show 6,854 students and teaching staff are currently infected with COVID-19. Another 51,147 students and teaching staff are in quarantine.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was said to be hoping to soon resolve the interministerial brawl over the extent of precautions needed for a safe return, in particular whether vaccines will be required.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday said officials from the Health, Education and Finance ministries are working together on the plan.

Meanwhile, Channel 12 reported that Israel was set to dispose of 80,000 COVID-19 vaccines due to expire at midnight.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were said to be worth NIS 6 million ($1.8 million).

According to the network, which said that Pfizer refused to extend the expiration date, Israel has not previously thrown out such a high number of vaccines during the pandemic.

“The State of Israel is managing its stock of vaccines while paying attention to the expiry of the product,” the Health Ministry said in response.

“The state signed confidentially agreements and cannot reveal the exact amount of vaccines,” it added.

Earlier this month, Israel shipped some 700,000 doses approaching their expiration date to South Korea, in exchange for which Seoul has committed to sending fresh vaccines to Israel later this year.