The National Student and Youth Council (NSYC) denounced Health Minister Yuli Edelstein’s most recent plan today, under which Israel’s school system would once again be shut down and other restrictions reinvigorated in light of a recent spike in COVID-19 infections and deaths.
An official statement by the NSYC claimed that “The Ministry of Health has become a farce, and we the students have become scapegoats.”
The number of infections in educational institutions continues to rise, with some 60,000 students and teachers quarantined and 10,500 students and 2,000 teachers being confirmed as having COVID-19. Municipal governments in Ramat Gan, Petah Tikva and Bat Yam, among others, have closed or limited on-campus studies on their own initiative in an attempt to curb the disease.
"We will not accept another round of arbitrary and inconsistent instructions from the Ministry of Health, not when the obvious answer is simply to actually enforce the previous ones.”
The NSYC proposed that teachers under sixty be added to the list of those eligible for COVID-19 vaccination immediately.
“No department of the government has sustained more damage from this crisis than the educational system. Schools open and close, one set of guidelines after another is given, and no one is truly certain what is required of the students anymore.”
The statement ascribed particular importance to the rapidly approaching dates for nation-wide matriculation exams, one of the most significant tests in an Israeli student’s academic career.
“The Ministry of Health is mistaken in its assumption that students are a high-risk group,” the statement concluded. “We will not allow this virus to put a halt to our education.”
The student’s ire was quickly reinforced by the Council for Freedoms of the Public in the Coronavirus Crisis, which hastened to point out that, “Shutting down the schools puts a halt to our children’s future, not to COVID-19. The Ministry of Health's insistence on closing schools sacrifices students to force parents to stay home as well.”
The group made mention of studies both in Israel and abroad linking the bulk of new cases to neighborhoods as opposed to schools.
“Health authorities worldwide have agreed that closing schools is a last resort only, but in Israel, the finger on that particular trigger seems to have gotten a bit itchy. Israeli students have not studied normally in nearly a year, and the long-term effects will leave significant impacts on our children's’ development.”
The most recent plan from the Ministry of Health, Channel 13 reports, calls for a complete lockdown for two weeks to slow the recent spike in both infections and mortalities and to preempt further spread of new, mutated forms of the virus; proposed restrictions over that time include shutting down the school system in its entirety and allowing only thirty percent staffing in non-essential workplaces.