The government has decided to launch a major effort to supply COVID-19 antigen tests to the households of Israeli students, in order to allow regular testing and prevent mass quarantines that will disrupt the school year, according to a report Friday.
Channel 12 news said some 30 million home antigen tests are on their way to Israel, and are expected to arrive within days. Families of schoolchildren under 12 will receive some 20 tests per child for free.
Families will be instructed to conduct tests at a frequency that depends on infection rates in their local communities: once a week for green areas and twice a week for red areas.
Kids in classes with a positive case will be tested every day, instead of sending entire classes into isolation.
Students returned to schools Thursday after the lengthy September holiday period.
Students under 12 (and those over 12 who have not been vaccinated) were required to present a negative coronavirus test, from either a testing center or a home testing kit. Students and teachers without a vaccination/recovery certificate or a negative test are not allowed on school premises.
From Sunday, more than one million Israelis will lose their Green Pass after a policy change dictated that a COVID-19 booster shot is required six months after receiving the first two doses.
According to Health Ministry data, 36 percent of teachers have not yet received the third vaccine dose. However, Education Ministry officials believe that figure will drop in the coming week.
During a meeting Friday between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and senior education officials, the sides agreed that teachers who have not been vaccinated with all three doses will not be able to renew their Green Passes.
However, during a two-week period ending October 17, teachers will be able to get an immediate renewal of their Green Pass if they get a booster shot, and will not be required to wait seven days as others are.
The number of Israelis hospitalized in serious condition due to COVID-19 dropped below 600 for the first time since August 17 Friday, according to figures from the Health Ministry, as Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash said Israel appeared to be nearing the end of its fourth COVID-19 wave.