Former Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov on Thursday morning explained in an op-ed for Yediot Aharonot why he believes that the new school year should not start on schedule.
"Slowly slowly, we are beginning to understand that starting the school year with the current infection rates does not go together with responsible risk management," he wrote. "It's not an optimistic worldview as a result of the third vaccine, rather, it's more of a bet that we are almost certain to lose."
"The school system here is so crowded, we have the most children of any of the developed countries. To open the school year now, when the number of confirmed cases each day stands at about 10,000, is to play with fire and pray for a miracle. It could be that a miracle will occur, and the beginning of the school year will pass peacefully, but we cannot rule out a catastrophe. Following the school days in cramped classrooms, in which students cannot keep a distance from each other, and they eat together, they will come home, meet their parents and after a few days their extended families as well, during holiday events."
"This should have been different. We needed to have used the long period that we had in order to prepare for a safe opening of the school year. We spent the time in extraneous discussions regarding whether or not to vaccinate in schools, instead of creating a situation which would prevent the spread of the pandemic.
"This irresponsible discourse will yet cost us in morbidity above and beyond coronavirus, and G-d forbid maybe in human lives as well. We made up draft plans of green classes, where only a colorblind person would miss how bright red they are. The serological testing campaign only further confused the parents, who already aren't keeping track of the abundance of plans and the various tests.
"And mostly - we conducted one-sided negotiations with the virus. He didn't come to the table, and he didn't cooperate with our plans.
"Since the pandemic started, every time we opened schools, we experienced an uncontrollable rise in infections. We never opened them with 10,000 cases a day. That's a difficult decision and sad news for children who are already longing to go back to school, and for their parents who want a bit of sanity after the long months in which we have been moving between being hopeful and being sober. We need to start now to prepare for a safe reopening of the educational system after the holidays, with the understanding that coronavirus is here and it will remain for a long time."