Israeli government on Wednesday voted to shut down the education system as early as Thursday, a day before another nationwide lockdown is set to take place.
The Prime Minister's Office confirmed the decision on Wednesday morning, which effectively reverses the vote conducted earlier this week that stated the education system will be closed on Friday, hours before the general closure was to take place.
The closure of the education system will include daycare centers (both public and private), kindergartens and schools – excluding special needs education.
Coronavirus czar, Prof. Ronni Gamzu on Tuesday urged the government to close the education system as soon as Wednesday morning in order to curb the rapid spread of coronavirus.
The ministers tried to prevent the hasty vote prior to an orderly discussion, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that in light of the sharp uptick in coronavirus illness across the country, the vote should be held via telephone.
Education Minister Yoav Galant, Water Minister Ze'ev Elkin and Welfare Minister Itzik Shmuli opposed the move, while Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Rafi Peretz, and Minister Tzahi Hanegbi voted in favor.
"According to the proposed resolution, the education system will be closed starting this coming Thursday, one day earlier than planned. This is, among other things, in view of the surge in illness and the identification of the activity of the education system as a major factor in this," Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman wrote to the ministers.
Galant wrote to Braverman in response, saying the available data does not warrant a premature shut down of the education system.
"There is no real need to close the education system and changing a previous government decision will undermine the public's trust in the government," Galant wrote.
"According to Education Ministry data, the percentage of coronavirus illness among students in the education system is smaller than their relative part in the population, and therefore there is no real need to close educational institutions hastily and immediately."