Israel's coronavirus czar Prof. Roni Gamzu on Wednesday to the coronavirus cabinet to partially reopen the education system, but only if studies will be held in small groups or "capsules".
Israel's coronavirus cabinet convened on Wednesday afternoon to discuss further easing of the lockdown curbs, including the resumption of studies for children in grades one through four.
Health Ministry officials said the measure would be in addition to making the children and teaching staff wear face masks while in school and conducting voluntary coronavirus survey tests for teachers, similarly to the ouline presented to kindergartens' staff.
According to the proposal Gamzu was to present to the cabinet, the separation into capsules will be done from the first grade and up, while "maintaining a permanent separation and mixing of groups during lunches and shuttle rides."
Health Ministry Director General Pro. Hezi Levi backed Gamzu's stance during the debate. "The Health Ministry has changed its mind, in the past we were convinced there is no need for capsules in grades 1-2 and now we are asking for capsules," he said. "The infection spread in schools does not usually originates in schools, but mainly at home."
The move comes a day after Education Minister Yoav Galant vehemently rejected the demand for capsules and said it would take the education system up to five weeks to get organized for the capsule structure.
According to the Health Ministry, in order for schools to reopen without capsules, the infection coefficient must be below 0.8, the number that Israel appears to be slowly approaching with less than 1,500 new COVID-19 cases reported on Tuesday.
Gamzu also emphasized during the meeting that he opposes any further lifting of lockdown restrictions. "Any further step to open up the economy and education system, at current per capita infection rate, is still risky because it is more likely to spread."