Israeli Gov’t Makes Back-to-School Plans Under Cloud of COVID Crisis
Israel’s Health Ministry on Tuesday morning reported that 8,646 new COVID-19 cases had been diagnosed in the previous 24 hours. This was a six-month record high for the Jewish state, which is battling a fourth wave of the coronavirus. The positivity rate stands at 6.2%, 55,000 Israelis are currently sick with the coronavirus, and hospitals report that 499 people are in serious condition. With ultra-Orthodox children already in school and the new school year for other students just around the corner, the Education and Health ministries are scrambling to devise policies that make sense from both a pedagogical and public health point of view. With different rules applying to different students depending on age and grade level, the infection rates in their cities, vaccination rates among their classmates, and serological and rapid antigen test results, just figuring out who can enter what classroom when will require a graduate-level university education. It hasn’t helped that Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton strongly disagree on whether vaccinations should be administered to students at school. A typically Israeli-style compromise, such as vaccinations being offered at schools but not during school hours, will be the likely outcome.