Students outside a Tel Aviv school on the last day of the school year, June 30, 2021

Education Ministry draws up outline for in-person learning under virus

Plan will include routine rapid coronavirus testing, look into cutting quarantine period down to 48 hours and leave closure of virus hotspots to discretion of ministry officials; Health Ministry chief says details yet to be finalized

Nina Fox |
Published: 07.25.21, 17:45
The Education Ministry published on Sunday an outline for the safe reopening of the upcoming school year amid a resurgence of coronavirus cases across the country.
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  • The plan aims to facilitate full-time in-school learning starting September 1 alongside routine rapid coronavirus testing for students.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    סיום הלימודים בבית ספר אהוד מנור באור יהודה
    סיום הלימודים בבית ספר אהוד מנור באור יהודה
    Students outside a Tel Aviv school on the last day of the school year, June 30, 2021
    (Photo: Nitzan Dror)
    "We intend to maintain a full educational routine for all ages including after-school activity," the ministry said in a statement.
    The Education and Health ministries also announced they would look into a pilot program that would allow students and faculty who were exposed to a confirmed patient to quarantine for a shortened 48-hour period if they test negative for the pathogen following two different tests.
    The plan also states that educational institutions will open regardless of morbidity rates in their localities.
    Each institution will be responsible to implement adequate measures necessary to isolate students and staff in case of suspected infection using rapid testing and in-class learning in smaller groups.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    עמדת בידוק בכניסה לבית הספר כרמים
    עמדת בידוק בכניסה לבית הספר כרמים
    Students tested for coronavirus in Binyamina after an outbreak was detected there early in June
    (Photo: Elad Gershgorn)
    Closures in schools experiencing significant coronavirus outbreaks will be subjected to the discretion of local Education Ministry representatives and health authorities.
    A nationwide serological testing program will be set into motion during August and September to detect staff and students who already have coronavirus antibodies to minimize quarantines in case of an outbreak at educational institutions. Participation will be on a voluntary basis.
    Health Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton said the return of students to a full educational routine has a crucial impact on their personal and emotional wellbeing.
    "There is no doubt students belong in school. Over the past 18 months, they paid a heavy price in social isolation and academic progress. It is our moral and educational duty to provide them with stability and security," she said.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    בני נוער מתחסנים בתל אביב
    בני נוער מתחסנים בתל אביב
    A high school student receives her coronavirus vaccine in Tel Aviv earlier this month
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Meanwhile, Health Ministry Director General Prof. Nachman Ash told a press briefing Sunday that the outline presented by the Education Ministry was not final and that officials from both ministries were still hammering out details on several issues.
    Shasha-Biton has found herself at loggerheads with Health Ministry officials on multiple occasions in the past, frequently criticizing their attitude toward coronavirus and accusing them of attempting to delegitimize her.
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