חיסונים לתלמידי בית ספר אורט בלוד
Seniors receving COVID-19 vaccine
Photo: Kobi Koaneks
An elementary school classroom in Jerusalem during the coronavirus pandemic

Israel considers shorter quarantine as 200,000 schoolchildren and staff isolate

As Education Ministry presented data, ministers call for government to consider harm to children and the economy under current isolation regulations; expert to deliberate reducing isolation period from seven to five days

Itamar Eichner, Tamar Trabelsi Hadad, Ran Boker |
Updated: 01.16.22, 19:05
According to the Education Ministry, some 200,000 schoolchildren and school personnel are currently in quarantine having either contracted virus or come into close contact with infected Omicron carrier.
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  • Health experts were set to deliberate on Sunday, the possibility of reducing the required quarantine time from seven days to five.
    3 View gallery
    היום הראשון ללימודים בבית ספר בית הכרם בירושלים
    היום הראשון ללימודים בבית ספר בית הכרם בירושלים
    An elementary school classroom in Jerusalem during the coronavirus pandemic
    (Photo: AFP )
    The data presented to ministers, showed that 40% of the school classes in Israel have at least one confirmed COVID-19 patient.
    According to the ministry, there are 75,993 schoolchildren and 13,364 education personnel who are confirmed with COVID, while an additional 107,507 students are in quarantine along with 4,354 educational staff.
    The Education Ministry said that more than 40% of schoolchildren from the first to fourth grades were vaccinated, and therefore did not require quarantine. Still, more than half of classrooms students are required to isolation for at least a week if they were in contact with a COVID patient.
    Also, some 50% of the students in the 5th grade and 6th need not quarantine after receiving the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and some 64% of the senior classes and 80% of educational staff are exempt from isolation.
    The Education Ministry also said that since the beginning of the pediatric coronavirus vaccination campaign among the first to sixth grade, 61,716 received the first jab, and since last week some 52,000 were exempt from quarantine.
    3 View gallery
    חיסונים לתלמידי בית ספר אורט בלוד
    חיסונים לתלמידי בית ספר אורט בלוד
    Israelis receiving COVID-19 vaccine
    (Photo: Kobi Koaneks)
    "The government must have a real profound discussion on the outline of Israel's education," Science, Technology and Space Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen said.
    "The COVID pandemic severley damaged the ability to study properly, and we must find a better way to deal with it," she added at the cabinet meeting.
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the country was nearing the eye of the storm, "The next days will be the most complicated in the current Omicron wave. Nevertheless, I'm glad to announce that until the end of the week another big shipment of Pfizer vaccines will arrive in Israel."
    Agriculture Minister Oded Forer proposed at the meeting to shorten the quarantine period to 5 days. "We must stop dragging our feet and start making decisions that suit the current COVID wave," he said.
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    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right)and an elementary school classroom
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right)and an elementary school classroom
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right)and an elementary school classroom
    (Photo: AFP )
    After Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and Economy Minister Orna Barbivai agreed with Forer, Bennett said that shortening quarantine "is always under consideration."
    We're breaking records in testing," Bennett said. "Some 5% of the population are tested every day, and that is how we isolate confirmed people with COVID from the community."
    The prime minister also warned of the surge in seriously ill patients, which has doubled in five day.


    First published: 18:47, 01.16.22
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