Shortage of tests may delay early release from quarantine

'Green classroom' plan goes into effect, allowing students to test instead of quarantine when classmate is diagnosed with coronavirus.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Children in school (illustrative)
Children in school (illustrative)

Beginning on Sunday, quarantine will be cut for schoolchildren in "green" areas, as part of the "Green Classroom" initiative, Israel Hayom reported.

Under the Green Classroom plan, classmates of a student who tests positive for coronavirus will be tested either by the Home Front Command or by their health funds. The students will remain in quarantine until they receive a negative test result, after which they will return to normal studies. Following their return, the students will be obligated to undergo rapid (antigen) coronavirus tests for seven days, at which time they will be required to undergo an additional PCR test.

The initiative will apply only to elementary school students, and does not include children in childcare settings below age six. The reason for this is that in classrooms, children sit with masks and in set seats, unlike in preschools and daycares, where it is difficult to keep children apart from each other and where children do not wear masks.

In addition, the exemption from quarantine applies only to school, after-school programs for grades 1-2, and school transportation: Students whose classmate has tested positive and who have not yet tested negative in a PCR test one week after exposure will not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities, go to malls, meet friends, or other things. It is not yet clear how this will be enforced.

Another challenge is that this plan places responsibility on parents, and some parents will not test their children.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry has stressed that the Green Classroom will not begin on Sunday in every classroom, since not all schools have antigen tests to distribute to parents. The Education Ministry does not keep a stock of tests, and is instead waiting to receive tests from the Health Ministry.

Though the plan will only apply in "green" areas, the pilot was done in "yellow," "orange," and "red" cities as well, and includes 130 schools. In areas which are not "green" only those classes participating in the pilot will be exempt from quarantine.