Israel is set to shorten the quarantine period for schoolchildren who came in contact with COVID carriers from next week in order to ease the burden on the parents who are forced to take time off work.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday ordered to cut the isolation times in local authorities with low coronavirus infection rates, contrary to the position held by the Health Ministry and its head of Public Health Prof. Sharon Alroy-Preis.
Shortly after the announcement, the ministry issued a statement, saying the order will be "examined," but that the so-called Green Class pilot must first be initiated in order to make a "responsible epidemiological recommendation."
Under the plan, only infected schoolchildren will be required to enter quarantine, while their classmates can simply take a virus test. Those who are negative would then be able to immediately return to class.
Currently, all students in a class where a COVID carrier is detected must isolate for at least one week.
Speaking to a special ministerial panel on the pandemic, Bennett said that he "wants to give peace and quiet to parents who will be able to go to work and send their kids to school, and put an end to this period of uncertainty."
"We must align ourselves with the decline in morbidity, but also ensure that a resurgence in cases cannot occur. There needs to be a delicate balance here."
Also on Wednesday, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton called on the Health Ministry to immediately implement the Green Class outline, adding that morbidity is better monitored when schools are open.
"The ministry has been delaying this - and we are pushing for this to happen as quickly and as widely as possible," she said.
Regarding the fact that many experts and ministers are not in consensus over how schools will affect the infection rate, Shasha-Biton said that they are "not the problem - but the solution."