בי"ס גבריאלי הכרמל
Children at Gabrieli Carmel School in Tel Aviv
Photo: Motti Kimchi
Children going back to school in Jerusalem

Israel should not experiment with our children's safety

Opinion: Our kids deserve to have their lives back, but the decision to bring 7-11 graders back to school makes it seem like the government views our children as guinea pigs to test the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine and score some political points

Sarit Rozenblum |
Published: 03.02.21, 00:05
Of all the half-witted, populist government decisions that have been made in recent months, none reeks more of the shameful propaganda scent than the upcoming move to allow children in grades 7-10 to return to school.
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  • Initially, children in upper grades, who spent the majority of the current school year studying online, were due to go back to class later on as the reopening of the economy progresses based on real-time data. But, due to both political and public pressure, their return to class has been moved up in order to please the parents, aka the voters.
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    Children going back to school in Jerusalem
    (Photo: EPA)
    The parents, however, who rightly demanded their children be returned to school, appear to be missing one crucial point. It’s easy to reopen these institutions, the hard part is making sure none of these schools and kindergartens become hotspots for another coronavirus outbreak.
    Those who choose to send their children to class must understand that the state will not, and cannot guarantee their child’s physical wellbeing. The opposite is true. If a child does not contract the coronavirus in class, it's only due to sheer luck.
    The last few weeks have taught us painful lessons about child mortality. Hundreds of thousands of youths have contracted the pathogen, which seems to have shifted its focus from the older population, who is now mostly vaccinated, to the younger.
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    Children at Gabrieli Carmel School in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
    According to recent data, one of every seven new cases is among those aged between 0 to 9. While one in every five is among those aged 10 to 19. The data further shows that one out of every eight children who became infected will suffer various, sometimes life threatening, symptoms long after the disease has passed.
    Returning the children to schools and kindergartens is an important mission of great significance, there is no doubt about it. Our kids have paid a heavy price this passing year, they have been robbed of their routine, stuck at home with no cognitive stimulation and no friends.
    When it comes to prioritizing who among the country’s population deserves to have their lives back, our children are at the top. And still, throwing them back into their old routines without a guarantee of safety, will achieve only negative results.
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    בי"ס גבריאלי הכרמל
    בי"ס גבריאלי הכרמל
    Children at Gabrieli Carmel School in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
    The overcrowding in classrooms, the faulty air conditioning and the lack of social distancing have all turned Israel’s educational institutions into potential hotbeds for infections.
    And yet, no measures have been taken which would guarantee our children's safety. Most kids still study in large groups, all while coming into regular contact with a multitude of school staff such as teachers and custodians.
    The government should have taken every possible precaution to allow schools and kindergartens to operate safely. This includes splitting classes into small groups, ensuring each capsule has its own staff, installing see-through plastic walls between each desk in order to decrease contact between students, and have students and teachers undergo a mandatory coronavirus test once every two weeks in order to root out any asymptomatic carriers.
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    בי"ס גבריאלי הכרמל
    בי"ס גבריאלי הכרמל
    Children at Gabrieli Carmel School in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Motti Kimchi )
    All of the above are measures we have known since the onset of the pandemic are needed to be put in place. Still, no effort has been made to implement them in order to guarantee the safety of our children.
    Last week, Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla said that Israel is the world's testing lab for the coronavirus vaccination. And one thing that is left to test is whether those unvaccinated will be affected by the virus if everyone around them is.
    So it seems that with their ill-advised return to class, our children - who have put their faith and safety into our hands - have turned into nothing more than guinea pigs for experiments even though they received nothing more than a placebo.

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