“Letting parents test their children is one big lie.”

The new government outline that was authorized last week aims to bring an end to the plague of never-ending quarantines in the education system. The new policies come into effect on Thursday and will permit parents to use antigen tests to test their children at home. The tests are supposed to be conducted twice a week, on Sundays and Wednesdays, before children go to school. But not all parents intend to comply. Some plan to skip the testing stage and simply send their children to school without a negative test result. Interviews conducted by Mako revealed the frustration and sharp criticism of the policies developed by the Prime Minister, the Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, and the Health Minister, Nitzan Horowitz.

“I have no intention of testing my children,” says Amichai (not his real name). “This idea of letting parents test their children is one big lie. If coronavirus was really dangerous for children, then what about the rest of the days of the week? Make up your minds! Why only test on Sunday and Wednesday?” He adds, “It’s divorced from reality – either we should be testing every day, or not at all.”

According to Amichai, it’s ridiculous to rely on parents actually conducting the tests. “What about parents who say they’re doing the tests and they’re simply lying? That’s why I say openly that I have no intention of conducting these tests. There are plenty of people who will assure you that they tested before sending their children to school, and you can’t believe a word they say. It’s simply too hard for people to comply with these new rules, and that’s why they’re not going to be kept. The rules have no logic to them – they’re confusing people.”

Another parent who we’ll call Shifra, a mother of three school-age children, was sharply critical of the government’s new policies. “The rules aren’t clear and they make no sense,” she says. “They’re just a way for people to have a clear conscience. People want to feel comfortable about sending their children to school with a negative test result; the government wants to tick off the box so that they can start getting things back to normal.” Shifra, like Amichai, doesn’t plan on testing her children. “The guidelines and the tests put us in a very complicated situation with regard to our children, our communities, the school itself… I don’t want to force my children to tell lies.”

“They’re wearing us out with all these rules,” says Miriam (not her real name), a mother of two school-age children. “These tests make no sense and they don’t achieve anything. The virus isn’t even dangerous for children, so why not just let them live alongside it? There’s no point in testing them twice a week, especially as they’ve cancelled quarantine requirements now. Why can’t they just leave the children alone?” She adds, “We don’t run off to the doctor’s office every time they have a cold, to make sure that’s all it is.”

According to the Education Ministry, “Minister Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton achieved the revocation of quarantine requirements in order to ensure continuous learning for our children. In light of this development, a new outline was formulated that was approved by the Prime Minister, together with expert officials in the Health Ministry – an outline that is good news for parents and students alike.

“Over the past few weeks, the State has demonstrated faith in its citizens, trusting that they will comply with the new outline and conduct the tests. The Education Ministry is confident that parents will conduct the tests in order to safeguard the health of their children and enable studies to continue.

“The new regulations governing testing and quarantine are designed to ease the burden on parents and children as far as possible, and to enable the maintenance of a normal routine. This is part of a national policy of learning to live with the coronavirus. The Health Ministry believes that this represents a responsible manner of dealing with the situation, and expects parents to conduct the tests according to the guidelines, and to keep their children home in the event that they test positive.

“Parent who opt not to follow the guidelines and do not conduct the tests not only harm their own children but also those around them, and impede the national effort aimed at containing the coronavirus and ensuring the continuation of a normal routine in Israel.”