September 1st School Opening Not So Sure After All

YERUSHALAYIM -
israel schools
Israeli schoolchildren (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)

After an official announcement that schools will open on Sept. 1, uncertainty reemerged on Thursday as a Health Ministry official said the matter was again under review.

Ilana Gans, who specializes in public health at the Ministry, told the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee that the current infection rates could force a change in the opening date, The Times of Israel reported.

The Ministry, she stressed, “wants to open the year as planned with all the means to prevent as much as possible the arrival of infected children [to school premises].

“We saw during the [last] school year the damage cause by not returning children to schools,” Gans said, referring to the academic losses and emotional difficulties among students forced to learn remotely.

Gans spoke after Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzburg, the acting committee chair, warned that the return of children to school on September 1 would “definitely lead to infections and that harms the strategy of the Health Ministry to buy time” for the vaccine booster campaign to stem the spread of the virus.

Delaying the start of studies until October would put the ministry “in a much better position,” he said.

Earlier this week, after prolonged debate, the coronavirus cabinet said that the school year would begin as scheduled. As part of the decision, ministers agreed that eligible students, aged 12 and over, will be vaccinated on campus during school hours, subject to parental approval.