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Two weeks until Israel’s school bells ring: A complete COVID-19 guide

CM 14/08/2021

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The government has made a firm decision to open the 2021-2022 school year on time on September 1, despite the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
While the Education Ministry has estimated that there could be as many as 5,000 students infected daily after the start of the school year, it said it is committed to having all students from preschool through grade 12 learn physically in schools, within the regular framework, and without capsules.
Every school will be able to adapt their learning hours to meet their pupils’ needs and in addition, every elementary school will appoint a “health trustee” who will be in charge of ensuring the health of the students and the staff.
The Health and Education ministries devised a detailed, five-layered plan to help keep children safe and ensure their studies. With the help of materials disseminated by the Education Ministry, here is what you need to know about opening up Israel’s schools during the fourth wave of the pandemic.
High school students. Vaccinations will be offered at schools, in the hope that many will take the jab. (Credit: FLASH90)High school students. Vaccinations will be offered at schools, in the hope that many will take the jab. (Credit: FLASH90)

Serological Testing

Children aged 3-12 who are neither vaccinated nor recovered from coronavirus will be asked to take a serological test, which shows whether they have developed virus antibodies. This would happen if the child was infected with coronavirus but did not know.
The tests are meant to increase the number of students who will be exempt from quarantine in the event that a student in their classroom becomes sick.
A serological test is a brief blood test with a sample taken from the finger. The results are delivered within 15 minutes. A child who returns a positive result for antibodies will receive a Green Pass.
The tests are not mandatory and require the consent of a parent.
The serological testing program has already kicked off in haredi schools that began their school year on the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul (August 9). Health experts estimate that around 20% of students will be found to have developed antibodies.

Rapid Antigen COVID-19 Testing

These tests are designed to help identify if individuals have COVID before they go to school on September 1 and potentially lead to a school outbreak.
The Education and Health Ministries are supplying 1.9 million of these tests to local schools so that children from preschool through grade 9 can be tested between August 27 and September 1. Parents are asked to screen their children at home and report the results to their schools.
Students who test positive will be asked to take a standard PCR test and enter quarantine. Anyone who tests negative can go to school.

Green Class

The ministries have also devised a plan to help keep kids out of quarantine even if a student in their class tests positive. The “Green Class” outline is already being piloted in haredi (ultra-Orthodox) schools now. If effective, it will be launched in the larger school system beginning on October 15.
The model works like this: The infected student will enter quarantine immediately and students and staff who were near the student will test for coronavirus for seven days. On the first and last days, the individuals will take standard PCR tests. On the other days, they will take rapid antigen tests.
Anyone who tests negative will return to school. Anyone who tests positive will enter quarantine. Students or teachers who refuse to be tested will also enter quarantine
The only exception will be those who are vaccinated or recovered – they will not need to test or enter quarantine.
If someone in a class is in quarantine and the rest is not, the school will be responsible for providing a solution for learning, such as offering Zoom or recorded lessons for those who cannot come to school.
When there is an outbreak at a school where more than five verified cases found in one day, or an accumulation of 10 cases within three days, the district administrator may decide to close a school completely. This move would need to be done in consultation with the local authority and district physician and with the approval of the director-general of the Education Ministry.

Magen Hinuch / “Education Shield”

This program only applies to schools in red or orange municipalities, a designation that will be published every Wednesday by the Health Ministry.
As part of the program, tests will be performed once a week on students who are not vaccinated or recovered in schools for early detection of infection.
During the time that a school is located in an orange or red district, students in preschools, first through sixth grades and afterschool programs will continue to learn as usual with their full classes.
Students in seventh through ninth grades will only learn in full if those exempt from quarantine are more than 50%. For grades 10-12, more than 70% would have to be exempt, otherwise, these students would move to learning in capsules, outside or using a hybrid or frontal and online learning while testing is being carried out.


Finally, studying during the pandemic means that every student from first grade and upwards will be required to wear a mask in their classroom and at all indoor educational activities. Masks will also be required on school buses and in any outdoor setting attended by more than 100 people.
The only exceptions will be during exams and gym classes.
In addition, schools will be asked to offer learning in open spaces as much as possible, and to work with students and teachers to maintain top-level hygiene at schools.
Some 90% of the country’s educational staff is either vaccinated or recovered. Those who are not will be subject to the same rules as students.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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