The Health Ministry is updating the traffic light scores of Israel’s cities and towns on Thursday this week, in an effort to allow more students to return to school on Sunday.
The coronavirus cabinet ruled earlier this week that students in grades 5-6 and 11-12 who live in green and yellow cities will return to their classrooms on Sunday. In addition, those students living in “light orange” cities – those with a traffic-light grade of seven or better – and who have at least 70% of residents aged 50 or older vaccinated with at least two doses will be able to go back to school.
This is in addition to preschoolers and students in grades 1-4, who have already returned to school in these areas.
The Health Ministry normally ranks cities on Wednesday but is pushing this off a day so that the Thursday ranking can “serve as the decisive ranking for the opening of the education system on Sunday,” it said in a statement.
Moreover, previously, light orange was defined as cities with a score of 6.5 or better. Now, as mentioned, that score needs to be only seven.
The calculation of the immunization threshold will continue to be evaluated based on the number who are expected to be inoculated one week after their second dose on Sunday. The Health Ministry said it will consider those who recovered from the virus in its calculation.
The ministry stressed that this shift is not expected to happen again. Rather, after this week, the intention is to return to the regular schedule for determining a city’s status, which is once a week on Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, the Education Ministry released the outline for how returning students will learn.
According to the plans, fifth and sixth graders and 11th and 12th graders who are eligible to return to school will learn in groups of up to 20 students at least three days per week. The other days, distance learning will continue.
Students will be allowed to mix within a maximum of two capsules, and teachers within a maximum of four.
In orange and red areas, all students will continue to learn from home, the ministry said. However, 11th and 12th graders will be allowed to go to school for their matriculation exams in small groups.
Finally, the ministry reminded, activities in open areas are still allowed for all students in all grades and in all areas. Those meetings can take place with up to 20 students who are wearing masks and social distancing.
Although, as noted, the final rankings will be determined only on Thursday, as of Wednesday night there were 215 cities and towns with a traffic light ranking of seven or lower (light orange to green). The list includes 58 green zones and 97 yellow zones. The rest were light orange. From the Health Ministry website, it appeared that none of the newer light orange areas had yet to achieve the 70% vaccination rate.