Senior health officials in Israel have sounded a clear warning stating that the nation is showing signs of being the world’s highest COVID spreader. With these concerns, it has been reported that Israel may be considering a delay in starting the new school year by as much as a month.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, while speaking to local Walla News, said that since there are “only 6-7 school days” in September due to the Chagim, it may be worthwhile to wait a month in light of the current COVID wave. As of now, it has been decided that students in 8th to 12th grades in “red” cities will only attend in-person classes if at least 70% of the grade is vaccinated or recovered. Grades with less than 70% of vaccinated or recovered students will learn from home via Zoom.
As it stands, schools in Israel are expected to begin their new academic year starting September 1, and the prime minister’s office and education ministry will be holding a meeting early next week to make a decision about the matter.
The dire situation in Israel has been fueled by Health ministry reports on Thursday, which confirmed over 600 seriously ill coronavirus patients (the number that the Health Ministry earlier this month determined as the threshold for a lockdown). Since Israel’s hospital can only properly treat 1,200 seriously ill COVID patients, over 600 patients mean that the hospitals will be at maximum capacity within weeks.
To avoid a major disaster, Israel is expected to expand its booster shot campaign to all Israelis 12 and older beginning next month as preliminary research shows that the third vaccine has a significant effect on preventing serious illness and transmission of the virus.