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Bennett to meet top officials in last-minute scramble to open school year

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is to convene top officials to review preparations for opening the school year later in the week, his office said in a statement Sunday, with a number of key issues still unresolved.

The 1 p.m. gathering on Monday with Bennett will be attended by the Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, national coronavirus czar Salman Zarka, head of the IDF Home Front Command Maj. Gen Ori Gordin, chair of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel Haim Bibas, as well as other relevant officials, the Prime Minister’s Office said in the statement.

The meeting will come just two days before the school year is set to open on September 1, and as a number of key issues on how to keep COVID-19 infections in schools to a minimum remained unclear. Among them was the participation of unvaccinated students in studies, virus testing of students, and an agreement by teachers’ unions on the arrangements for operating schools.

Under a government-approved plan, all students are to take a rapid virus test in the 24-hours before September 1. Although the distribution of the test kits began in earnest on Sunday, there were supply and logistic issues, Channel 13 News reported.

One Tel Aviv principal told the station that he had only received two-thirds of the kits he needed. Another from Hadera said none had arrived but he had been assured they were on the way.

“Regrettably, there are still a lot of questions about this matter,” the Tel Aviv principal said.

The tests are voluntary and according to the report, some officials are concerned that the entire project could prove to be a waste of the tens of millions of shekels spent obtaining the kits from abroad. In addition, it is not clear what is supposed to happen after the first day at school, and in particular whether or not unvaccinated pupils will need to carry out further testing in order to continue attending classes.

One of the country’s biggest teachers unions was reportedly planning on taking matters into its own hands.

Ran Erez, chairman of the Secondary School Teachers Association, intends to instruct member teachers and principals to deny entry to any of the 900,000 students they tutor who are not vaccinated or do not have a negative virus test taken in the........

© The Times of Israel

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