Education Ministry data released on Wednesday showed that only a small fraction of all coronavirus infections in children and teens occurred in educational institutions.
The data was presented to the ministers ahead of the government vote meant to expedite the closure of the education system before the nationwide lockdown takes effect on Friday.
The epidemiological investigations of over 4,300 children and teens aged 3-18 show that only 2% of them contracted the virus in pre-schools, nurseries, or day care centers; 5% in elementary schools; 1% in middle schools and 2% in high schools.
This means only 10% of coronavirus infections in children and teens occurred in public educational institutions. Data also shows that 16% of all patients under the age of 18 contracted the pathogen at yeshivas.
One percent of patients reported to have contracted the virus at someone else's home, most likely while visiting a friend, and 2% could not recall the source of infection.
The majority of minors reported they contracted the virus in their own homes, most likely from another family member.
Among educational staff, 60% of all respondents said that they contracted the virus at home; 12% in elementary schools; 9% in preschools, nurseries and day care centers; and 3% in yeshivas. The rest could not recall the source of infection.
Meanwhile, the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center reported that 37% of all coronavirus cases confirmed on Tuesday were found in individuals aged 19 or younger. In recent days, the infection rate among this age group fluctuated between 35.8% and 39.4% of all cases on a given day. However, serious coronavirus illness among minors remains rare and no COVID-19-related deaths have been reported in Israel.
The Health Ministry, on the other hand, is concerned that students who contracted the virus outside of school will bring the disease to their educational institutions, thus putting other students and their families at risk.
The National Parents Organization opposed the shutdown of the education system, while criticizing the Health Ministry's constant indecisiveness.
In the meantime, the union of private day care centers in Israel said on Wednesday they will reopen all private kindergartens and day care centers after the holiday of Rosh Hashanah next week, despite the nationwide lockdown, which is set to take effect on September 18 and last for nearly a month.
"On Monday, all the private kindergartens in Israel will reopen, for the benefit of the children's education, which will give parents the opportunity to continue working in the private business sector," the statement read.