search
Education Ministry fears many parents will keep kids at home

Students return to schools after holidays, with new COVID measures at forefront

Only 81% of parents collect testing kits needed for kids to gain entry to school; some 100,000 in quarantine; pilot program sees some classes avoid quarantine if child gets virus

Young Israeli students have their antigen test results checked as they arrive for their first day of school after the holidays, at Aseh Hayil school in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, September 30, 2021 (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
Young Israeli students have their antigen test results checked as they arrive for their first day of school after the holidays, at Aseh Hayil school in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, September 30, 2021 (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Israel’s students returned to schools Thursday morning after the lengthy September holiday period, starting the academic year in earnest as the month comes to an end.

Students under 12 (and those over 12 who have not been vaccinated) will need 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 will not be allowed on school premises.

As of Wednesday evening, only 81 percent of parents of eligible children had collected their free home testing kits.

While some 2 million are heading back to schools, around 100,000 students are in quarantine due to exposure to virus carriers.

As of now, any COVID-19 case in a classroom will force all classmates into quarantine. Next week a pilot program in 300 classrooms will see students in such classes continue coming to school while getting daily tests for a week.

The Education Ministry is also considering providing each student with multiple home tests to allow parents to screen their children at home on a regular basis.

The ministry fears many parents won’t send their children to school in the coming days lest they end up needing to quarantine and thus cause their parents to lose workdays.

Students arrive to the classroom on the first day of the new academic year, at Orot Etzion School in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, September 1, 2021. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Wednesday saw government-supervised daycares open after the Sukkot holidays, but with a delay of several hours as caregivers protested severe staffing shortages and poor pay.

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.

Among them are almost half the country’s teachers, according to an estimate from the Israel Teachers’ Union.

Ran Erez (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The director of the secondary school teachers’ union, Ran Erez, sent an urgent letter to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urging a two-month delay to allow teachers to get their booster shots and become Green Pass-compliant, warning that the decision to dock pay for those without the pass — and who refuse to be tested — would be challenged in court.

“There are no decisions like this directed at any other sector in the country. It is a measure that harms Israeli teachers in a nonproportional way,” he wrote.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed