Massive crowds of students, parents and teachers were reported at entrances to many Israeli schools on Tuesday as children returned to educational facilities across the country following the week-long Hanukkah holiday.
Eyewitnesses said many of those massing at entrances to schools did not have masks on and did not adhere to social distancing despite the spread of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Crowds and lines at entrances appear to be a direct result of the Education Ministry's rule, requiring each child entering the educational facility to hand over a negative COVID antigen test and have the school official register the child as coronavirus-free, before being allowed to enter.
So far, out of thousands of antigen tests conducted on children after the Hanukkah holiday, only 500 returned positive.
The Education Ministry said it has so far received results of 500,000 (out of potential 900,000) tests online, however quite a few parents had chosen not upload the results online as per requirement, instead bringing them school personally.
In addition, as a result due to some 3,000 school and kindergarten teachers currently being in isolation, having returned from abroad, educational facilities appear to be dangerously understaffed this week. As a result, many schools are expected to allow the students to go home earlier than usual.
In the meantime, during the meeting between the representative from education and health ministries, along with local authorities officials and the Home Front Command, it was decided that the vaccination campaign for children aged 5-11 will expand to some 20 schools later this week.
Most of the schools appear to be in the Arab sector, but next week the campaign is set to expand to all schools throughout the country.