Following a heated debate, the Coronavirus Cabinet on Monday evening confirmed that schools in “red cities” will not open on Tuesday. The decision is contrary to the position of Education Minister Yoav Galant. The decision will be in effect until Thursday.
According to the decision, the start of the school year will be postponed in localities classified as a "red zone", except for special education and institutions for at-risk youth. These institutions include: Elementary schools, secondary schools, kindergartens, daycares, conservatories and enrichment centers for the gifted.
Another cabinet meeting to discuss further restrictions on red cities is expected to take place on Thursday.
Accordingly, schools will not reopen in cities where lockdowns will be imposed. The additional localities, which are also defined as red areas, will be the subject of a discussion regarding the outline for the opening of the school year. Regulations will take effect immediately, starting Tuesday.
"The health considerations necessitate the prevention of the opening of the school year in red zones, and therefore, in view of the urgency of the matter, it is proposed to make use of the said clause and provide that the regulations shall enter into force immediately," the Cabinet decision said.
Prior to the decision, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Coronavirus Project Manager Professor Ronni Gamzu got into a heated argument with Education Minister Yoav Galant.
Minister Edelstein said at the beginning of the meeting that there is a consensus among experts on closing the education system in red cities.
Prof. Gamzu added that in the past, schools had been shut down only because of one sick child.
Minister Galant rejected their remarks and argued, "Gamzu’s proposal is causing panic and I hope it's not because of other motives that are very troubling to me."
"We invested 1.4 billion shekels to open up and not to panic. I have not seen a scientific basis that there is a high infection rate in schools. I do not understand where the idea is that this will lead to mass infection is coming from," Galant added.
Minister Meirav Cohen criticized all three and said, "Panic or no panic - what is wrong is that this discussion is being held at 10:00 p.m. the night before. That is what transmits uncertainty to the public."
Earlier on Monday, the Health Ministry published the list of cities and towns defined as “red” according to Gamzu’s traffic light plan. These are cities with high rates of coronavirus infections.
The list includes the municipalities of Daliyat al-Karmel, Tira, Ein Mahel, Emanuel, Kfar Qasim, Isfiya, the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, Kfar Kanna, Rechasim, Zemer, Al-Batuf, Laqia, Beit Jann, Ibelin, Ma'ale Iron, Kfar Bara, Jaljulia, the Nahal Sorek Regional Council, Ka'abiyye-Tabbash-Hajajre, Jadeidi-Makr, Umm al-Fahm, Jatt, Tiberias and Beitar Illit.