Corona cabinet holds late-night discussion on schools | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools | #parenting | #parenting | #kids

The coronavirus cabinet met late Sunday night to approve a plan to open the school year amid the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some hospitals announced they will stop admitting coronavirus patients starting on Monday due to a lack of a state budget.

Schools traditionally start on September 1, but with the High Holy Days beginning on September 7 and falling on weekdays, many have been pushing to delay the return of children to classrooms, at least in preschools and lower grades, where they are not eligible for a vaccine.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told Channel 12 she is in favor of postponing the beginning of classes at least until after Rosh Hashanah, which falls on September 7-8, because that is when families tend to gather and also to have another week to make progress with the vaccination campaign.

“I know most members of the cabinet think schools need to open on September 1,” Shaked said. “We will discuss it and make a decision.”

People waiting in line at an MDA station to receive their coronavirus vaccines in Tel Aviv, August 14 2021 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

The ministers were set to approve an outline to carry out mass coronavirus tests on students to keep them monitored and identify new cases quickly, remote learning for high-school classes in red cities where the vaccination rate is less than 70% and a pilot program to allow students in selected schools who come in contact with a COVID-19 patient to get tested every day for a week to avoid quarantine at home.

Mass serological testing that began Sunday is expected to identify children who had the coronavirus without knowing it in the past and therefore allow them to be exempt from isolation.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said all parents would receive at-home COVID-19 tests to use to check their children ahead of the beginning of the school year.

“We intend for every parent of a student In Israel to receive a self-test kit at home the day before the start of the school year, check the boy or the girl and fill out a note confirming that they are negative to coronavirus,” Bennett said at the opening the meeting.

This move will prevent infected students from showing up in classrooms and spreading the disease, he said.

Other main points of the plan developed by the Education and Health ministries include mass vaccinations, personal responsibility and less time learning remotely in front of a screen, he added.

Bennett said the next two weeks are going to be very delicate in seeing where the country is going.

“I can now state it from here: We can beat this wave,” he said. “If the public continues to get vaccinated en masse, if we continue to wear masks properly, if we continue to behave responsibly, we will celebrate the holidays with the family, freely.”

Last Thursday night, Israel opened eligibility for a booster to all individuals over the age of 40.

As of Sunday, more than 10% of Israelis ages 40-49 had already received a coronavirus booster shot.

Some 1.43 million people have received a third shot, about three weeks after Israel launched the vaccination campaign for those over 60 who were fully inoculated at least five months earlier.

Bennett said the eligibility would likely be opened to all ages soon and in the meantime asked those who have not gotten a booster to be careful.

The authorities believe that thanks to the effect of the vaccination campaign, Israel will be able to curb the spike in cases and serious morbidity and avoid a lockdown in September.

At the cabinet, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz reportedly also recommended a general cap on gatherings at 500 people outdoors and 400 people indoors.

As of Sunday, there were some 669 patients in serious condition, with the increase in cases appearing to be slowing down. Last Sunday, there were 535 patients in serious condition. Two weeks earlier, there were 362.

Also on Sunday, public hospitals said due to a lack of a state budget, beginning on Monday they would not accept any new coronavirus patients, and on Wednesday they are going to switch to Shabbat mode.

So-called public hospitals are independent organizations that rely mostly on donations, as opposed to facilities directly owned and funded by the government or the health funds. They include Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Hadassah-University Medical Center, Netanya’s Laniado Medical Center, Bnei Brak’s Ma’ayanei Hayeshua Medical Center and three hospitals in Nazareth, serving some two million people, or about 20% of the population.

In January, the hospitals began a long protest due to a financial crisis, with the organizers denouncing that their facilities had received only about half the funds per bed that government-owned hospitals received.

The crisis ended when the government agreed to increase their budgets.

However, the hospitals now accuse the authorities of not fulfilling their promises.

“I’m ashamed to stand here like a beggar,” said Shaare Zedek CEO Prof. Ofer Marin during an emergency press conference. “The State of Israel is violating the agreement with the public hospitals. None of the clauses of the agreement have been fulfilled. Our suppliers have collapsed. Our employees may not receive holiday pay. Our patients may not receive optimal care.”

Hadassah CEO Prof. Yoram Weiss said: “The time has come for the hospitals in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bnei Brak and Netanya to receive the appropriate budgets. In this way, our patients will be able to receive the proper care, as the residents of Tel Aviv do.”

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