image Photo: Flash90

Limited Israeli school reopening amid COVID-19 concerns

Israel’s Ministerial Committee on the coronavirus has approved the gradual reopening of schools in an attempt to restart the educational system.

In attempts to reassure parents over concerns other family members could be exposed to the virus by their returning schoolchildren, the government cited a study it said constituted a significant part of the committee’s deliberations showing children as 25%-75%-less contagious than adults.

The statistics failed to dispel fear over a renewed and potentially worse COVID-19 outbreak. Several municipalities defied Jerusalem’s decision and kept educational facilities closed in their jurisdictions while accusing the government of “poor preparation and management.”

Most cities did, however, comply with the instructive to reopen schools in a limited capacity. Parents expressed mixed reactions over sending their children back after six weeks of home confinement, during which Israel’s unemployment rate skyrocked to 27% and GNP was sapped between 4-12%. Rachel Shrike told Reuters that the return to “routine is a little bit scary, but we know this is essential.” Hila Mizrahi described the feeling of excitement amid concern, but she is also looking forward to resuming work as a high school teacher “in a couple of days, with great happiness.”

School Principal Tzipi Ya’akov greeted the development as a celebration similar to the start of the regular academic year in September. She noted that there was a discrepancy between the 256 expected pupils with the arrival of just 230, but said she believed some “anxious” parents would bring the others tomorrow. Ya’akov also explained that additional hygienic measures aimed at preventing further contagion includes the placement of wipes, spray and alcohol-based gel in each corridor, while the student body was instructed to provide personal disinfecting gel, gloves and masks.

15 Israelis died of the coronavirus since TV7’s last report on Thursday, which raised the total mortality rate to 234. The Ministry of Health has confirmed 1,779 fresh cases of the disease to on overall number of 16,237. 93 of the current patients have been diagnosed as in critical condition and there was a sharp drop to just 72 in need ventilator support. The recovery of an additional 1,446 people brings the number of Israelis to survive COVID-19 to 9,858.

It is important to note that TV7 has learned the indication of a drastic decline in Israel’s infection rate may be founded upon incomplete data.

According to the Health Ministry, there has been a sharp increase of newly verified cases in recent days amid a simultaneous drastic decline in testing.  While bout 10,000 tests were administered daily between 28 April and 1 May, over the past 4 days there has been a 214% reduction to 4,703 – which would seemingly correspond to the significant decline in diagnosed infections.