A kindergarten teaching assistant in Jerusalem was diagnosed with COVID-19, sending dozens of children into precautionary quarantine, the Jerusalem municipality said Sunday.
The city said the man worked at two private kindergartens that were not run by the municipality, and 30 children and several other teaching staff were sent into isolation until next Sunday after exposure to him.
The statement noted that the man had worn a mask at all times in the classrooms and followed Health Ministry guidelines. It did not identify the schools.
The incident comes after dozens of children in several cities were sent into quarantine Thursday after diagnoses of coronavirus in their midst.
In the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak, children and staff from a special education kindergarten were sent into quarantine after a teaching assistant was diagnosed with coronavirus, Army Radio reported. There were no details on the number of people isolated.
Bnei Brak was an epicenter of the virus outbreak leading to the predominantly ultra-Orthodox city being cordoned off for two weeks last month.
Another kindergarten was closed in the coastal city of Rishon Lezion after an assistant teacher was diagnosed with the virus. The kindergarten’s 20 children were sent into quarantine and the municipality made arrangements for them to all be tested.
In addition, 27 residents and three staff members at the Beit Hanna rehabilitation facility in Rehovot were isolated after a worker there was diagnosed, Hebrew media reported.
The incidents came in the wake of an easing in lockdown measures that saw schools and kindergartens fully reopened last week after two months of closure amid the coronavirus outbreak.
There had been concerns that as the lockdown is rolled back there could be a new wave of virus infections.
Recent weeks have seen a sharp drop-off in the number of new virus cases, with Israel lifting restrictions on movement.
However, health officials had reportedly warned against reopening preschools and kindergartens. The officials were said to be concerned that the return to school of so many small children who are unable to maintain social distancing and hygiene rules could cause a new outbreak of the coronavirus.
Under current rules, parents must sign off daily on a form that their children do not have a fever. Parents are not permitted to enter the premises of schools, preschools, or kindergartens. Instead they must drop off children at the entrance.
In Israel, where most parents work full-time, reopening the economy necessitated a solution for younger children who could not be left unsupervised. The Bank of Israel has said that the shutdown of the education system was costing the economy around NIS 2.6 billion ($737 million) per week, as many households had to keep one parent tending to children instead of working.
As of Sunday there have been 16,6717 cases of coronavirus diagnosed in Israel, with 279 deaths. So far, 14,090 people have recovered, according to Health Ministry figures.