Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi; Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Education Minister Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz.

In a discussion held between Education Minister Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, together with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a joint outline was presented regarding the opening of the school year, with considerations of the Coronavirus. Prime Minister Bennett approved the plan.

Education Minister Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton stated, “the return of the students to their routine in schools and kindergartens has a decisive effect on their mental, personal, and social resilience and on the shaping of their personalities, and there is no doubt that their place is within the educational institutions. In the last year and a half, the children have paid a heavy price by being disconnected socially and isolated, accompanied by the loss of many school days. It is our moral and educational duty to create certainty and stability for them for their personal and mental resilience, as well as for the educational staff.”

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According to the plan, studies will take place in sequence from Kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Ministry of Education published the plan for the coming school year with considerations of Coronavirus. The plan is based on the basic principle that ensures a routine and sequence of learning and continued focus on work in reducing the gaps that have widened in learning; emotionally, and socially. Learning will take place while maintaining the health of the students and the education staff and adhering to the general rules of health.

This plan is the result of a joint partnership and agreement between the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance, and local governing bodies. Its operation in the education system is subject to the amendment of regulations and the approval of the Corona Cabinet.

The outline ensures the health of students and education staff through 6 layers of protective actions:

1. Serology Testing: The tests are designed to detect students who have already fallen ill and recovered from Coronavirus, making them exempt from quarantine. The testing will take place beginning with the Haredi community whose school year already begins tomorrow (9.8) and will gradually expand to the rest of the students (1.6 million students). The testing will take place at local municipalities, beginning with the Haredi communities: Beit Shemesh, Bnei Brak, Beitar Ilit, Modiin Ilit, and Elad.

2. Rapid Testing: To detect Coronavirus before the start of the school year, parents will be provided with the tests, which they will carry out. Instructions will be issued later. The tests will be performed on 1.9 million students, 48 hours before the start of the school year.

3. “Green Class” Model: This model will operate only in schools where a verified case of Coronavirus has been discovered. The individual who has tested positive will enter quarantine, while the remaining will be tested for Coronavirus. Those who are sick will enter quarantine, and those who are negative will return to studying at school and will be tested every day for 7 days. Those who are sick will enter quarantine while those who receive a negative test will return to studying.

Students and teaching staff who do not want to be tested will follow the quarantine model that exists today. This model will begin as a pilot in the Haredi schools that return to studies tomorrow (9.8) and will expand in September also to schools within the Arab community who are expected to return fully to their studies. The pilot will serve as a basis for decision making, and will later be expanded to other schools.

4. Education Shield: Initiated tests will be performed in schools for the early detection of infection at a frequency of once per week in orange and red communities.

5. Lifestyle: Wearing a mask, maintaining distance, maintaining hygiene, learning in open spaces, continued monitoring and control of morbidity data through the National Control Center, monitoring morbidity data through the education system.

All of the above are presented alongside the national effort for vaccines currently being carried out.

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