Fourth grade classroom
Fourth grade classroomDavid Cohen Flash90

The Israeli Health Ministry’s ‘Green Classroom’ program expired at midnight between Sunday and Monday, leaving schools in a lurch regarding home quarantines and distance learning when students are diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2.

For months, Israeli schools have adhered to the ‘Green Classroom’ system, which outlined quarantine and testing protocols for classes in which one student tested positive for the virus.

In towns and neighborhoods with low infection rates, or in classes with vaccination rates over 70%, classes were exempted from automatic quarantine, with the infected student’s peers undergoing a PCR test before returning to school after testing negative, with daily rapid antigen tests for six days, followed by a second PCR test after one week.

The plan, which had been drawn up by Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton (New Hope), was aimed at limiting the number of students sent to quarantine and the use of distance learning.

But Health Ministry and Education Ministry officials failed to reach an agreement Sunday night on plans to either extend or replace the program with new guidelines.

Government officials are expected to continue efforts Monday morning to reach a compromise – leaving parents uncertain of whether in-person studies will continue in their children’s schools.

With the number of daily confirmed cases of the virus rising rapidly, if the Green Classroom system is not extended, tens of thousands of students will be forced to return to distance learning.

The Education Ministry has sought to expand the Green Classroom system, dropping the requirements of low local infection rates or 70% vaccination rates among students.