School Begins Under the Shadow of COVID

Even as a fourth Corona wave intensifies, government decides to open new school year on schedule

By Israel Today Staff |
Young Israeli students on their first day back at school in Tel Aviv. Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90

After two months of summer vacation, Israeli schools officially opened their doors today to 2.4 million children. According to the daily Israel Hayom, however, 35,508 children had to stay at home because they tested positive for COVID-19 using take-home tests provided by the Ministry of Education. A further 55,390 students are still in quarantine from earlier infections or exposure. These students were able to participate via Zoom.

Overall, around a quarter of Israeli children were unable to attend school due to Corona restrictions. In “red” cities, where the number of infected people is very high, classes are only allowed to come together if more than 70 percent of students have been vaccinated. Otherwise these schools must resort to distance learning.

The Ministry of Health reported that 81 percent of 16-18 year-olds are already vaccinated, while only 56 percent of 12-15 year-old Israelis have had two jabs of the Pfizer vaccine.

School staff must adhere to the “green passport” system and are only allowed to enter school premises if they have been vaccinated, have recovered from Corona or have a recent negative COVID test, including rapid antigen tests that last up to 24 hours.

The opening of schools is controversial among experts and politicians. With a fourth Corona wave intensifying, many consider opening schools to be dangerous, while others insist the damage to society by keeping schools closed would be far more detrimental. When he was in the Opposition, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett repeatedly criticized his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, for closing schools, and has thus done all he can to avoid such a measure.


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