Israeli official fights to keep kids in school amid Covid restrictions

i24NEWS

3 min read
Anti-Covid vaccine activists protest outside a school as children go to class in Jerusalem, on December 29, 2021.
Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90Anti-Covid vaccine activists protest outside a school as children go to class in Jerusalem, on December 29, 2021.

'When you decide to break that frame of education... it has a serious effect on our children and teenagers'

Israeli officials are speaking out against the latest measures taken by the government to curb Covid infections, which include reimposed restrictions on classroom attendance among schools.

On Monday, the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee of Israel's parliament (Knesset) approved temporary regulations amid a surge of the omicron Covid variant.

In response, Knesset member and chair of the Education, Culture, and Sport Committee Sharren Haskel explained to i24NEWS that such restrictions as having a “serious effect” on the students.

Schools in parts of the country, categorized as red or orange with medium-to-high infection rates, will not be allowed to hold in-person classes in grades 7 to 12 unless the vaccination rate of the class is 70 percent or higher.

Grades 1 through 6 in such zones are also required to impose a "limited contact" system to minimize physical interactions between students in the classroom. 

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“We’ve seen in the past two years are children were studying from home on Zoom for almost a year and a half,” Haskel said.

“The toll that they suffered, the backlashes… There’s been a recent increase in violence… sexual harassment, and attacks in schools by teenagers.”

She continued to detail to i24NEWS that her committee has some of Israel’s most experienced psychiatrists from some of the country’s most prominent mental health institutions.

“They’re saying something so concerning. Teenagers and children are waiting to be hospitalized in the mental health sections, waiting to get treatments for problems like depression, anger management, anorexia, anxiety, and so many more issues.”

“When you decide to break that frame of education, a daily routine of social encounters and studying… it has a serious effect on our children and teenagers,” she said.