Despite failure of test program, Green Class plan to be expanded

Green Class pilot was small and short, with not enough cooperation from parents. Education Min.: 'Infection rates aren't skyrocketing.'

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

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

Israel's pilot of the "Green Class" plan failed: The Education Ministry did not succeed in enlisting the parents' support, and the home COVID-19 antigen tests identified only a small number of cases, Israel Hayom reported.

As a result, Israel does not yet know if the "Green Class" plan is safe and effectively prevents coronavirus from spreading, the site emphasized.

Despite this, the Israeli government has decided to expand the program to include children in daycares, preschools, and kindergartens, as well as to "yellow" areas where infection rates are showing a worrying trend.

According to Israel Hayom, documents from the Health Ministry show that this decision was not made based on clear-cut positive results.

The Green Class plan eliminates quarantine for students whose classmates tested positive for coronavirus. Instead, the coronavirus-positive classmate goes into quarantine, and the rest of the class undergoes a PCR test on the first day following exposure, as well as home antigen tests every day for the week following, and a second PCR test on day seven following exposure. Those who test positive quarantine, and those who test negative can continue to attend school - but not social activities, afternoon programs, or any other setting.

Though Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton (New Hope) requested to expand the program to areas with high infection rates, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett decided that the Health Ministry should draft a different plan for those areas, as part of the "Education Shield" plan, which would include weekly coronavirus tests for each of the classes. It is also possible that the schools' coronavirus supervisors will be trained to perform the tests.

Regarding the Green Class, it said that the pilot program, which began after the Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) holiday and lasted two weeks, was only partially implemented and therefore we cannot know if and under which conditions it is safe.

One of the biggest failures of the new plan is that the Education and health Ministries did not succeed in enrolling enough classes: While the pilot was supposed to include 200 classes, in actuality it included only 97, and 12 of those classes were closed due to high infection rates.

Assuming that each class has approximately 40 students, the sample size comes to approximately 3,000 students among 1.5 million in school settings.

Another weak point of the program is parents' cooperation in reporting the results of the home antigen tests. Less than 25% of parents reported the results online, and no handwritten reports were collected at all.

Another issue is that the participating classes only implemented part of the plan: Not every parent took their child for a PCR test on the first day and seventh day of the trial.

A source in the Education Ministry admitted that, "The Health Ministry is apparently angry that the pilot was conducted on a very small group of 97 classes, and that it was only conducted for a relatively short period of a week and a half. We can't truly draw conclusions from this regarding the entire school system."

"On the other hand, they did not raise a red flag and we don't have out-of-control infection rates here. At the end of the day, tens of thousands of quarantine days were prevented. According to our data, in 82% of the classes participating in the plan, no one turned up positive after seven days. In other words, among most of those participating in the pilot, there were no infections."