Gov’t Unveils ‘Return to School Amid COVID-19’ Plan

YERUSHALAYIM -
(Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Bitton and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz submitted to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and then approved the outline formulated by the Education Ministry and the Health Ministry for Israel’s return to school amid the coronavirus pandemic and the spiking number of infections in Israel.

The outline includes serological tests for children, rapid tests, a “Green Class” model, wearing masks in class and social distancing.

The plan calls for blanket serological tests to detect students who have been infected and recovered, exempting them from the need to quarantine if exposed to an active case.

The tests will first be conducted in chareidi schools, which opened on Sunday, Rosh Chodesh Elul, and will gradually expand to about 1.6 million students.

Rapid tests are meant to detect COVID cases before the start of the school year. The tests will be provided to the parents and will be performed by them. The tests will be performed on 1.9 million students about 48 hours before the start of the school year.

This idea has been criticized as not applicable as the parents will refuse to do the tests, and the tests themselves have been rejected as inaccurate.

The “Green Class” model will operate in a school where a verified patient has been discovered. The verified patient will go into quarantine while the rest will undergo corona tests. Students who test negative will return to school and be examined every day for seven days. Students and teaching staff who do not want to be tested will enter quarantine.

The model will begin as a pilot in schools in the chareidi society and will expand in September to the schools in the Arab society, who are expected to study throughout the month, unaffected by the chagim and the subsequent vacations.

Tests will be performed in schools once a week in orange and red localities with high infection rates.

Educators and principals rejected the plan as a confusing mess that does not address crucial issues and puts both the teachers and their students in harm’s way.

They further said they would refuse to act as health monitors or enforcers and would focus on their job as educators.