Israel said on Monday it would offer the Covid-19 vaccination to students on school grounds as it announced the school year would open on time next week, despite the increase in coronavirus cases. .
“Students (…) will be vaccinated on school grounds during school hours, subject to parental approval,” a government statement said, confirming that classes would begin on September 1.
Israeli leaders say they are trying to avoid repeating disruptive school closings amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The country has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus infections after months when its world-beating vaccine campaign has reduced cases.
The health ministry said Monday that 6,467 new cases of Covid were recorded in Israel the day before, with 1,142 people hospitalized.
About 30 percent of children aged 12 to 15 have received two doses of the vaccine in Israel, far fewer than any other age group.
The plan to reopen the school would also require students under the age of 12 to provide parental approval to take a coronavirus test on the first day of school.
Additionally, high school classrooms in cities with high transmission rates would require 70% of students to be vaccinated or switch to online learning.
Some members of the government had opposed vaccines in schools, with Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton saying in July that students could feel pressure from their peers to get vaccinated.
On Monday, she praised the plan on Twitter, writing: “Opening the school year – vital for students’ stability and mental resilience. “
Ran Balicer, chairman of Israel’s national Covid-19 expert group, warned on public radio, “of course, it won’t be possible to completely prevent infections.”
Already, the new wave has prompted the government to impose new restrictions on gatherings and to launch a third booster vaccine for people aged 40 and over.
Monday’s plan comes a day after Israel launched a national serological survey focused on children aged three to 12, who are not yet eligible for the Covid vaccine but who may have developed antibodies after having a case not registered.
© 2021 AFP