“We must allow continuous learning. Otherwise, we’re raising a generation of zombies,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said.
By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News
Israel’s Health Ministry announced on Thursday that starting on October 3, unvaccinated teachers who refuse to provide a negative COVID test will not be allowed into schools.
“Their absence will be considered as unjustified,” a letter sent out to school principals on Thursday morning read, clarifying that said teachers will not get paid for missing work due to the new directive.
Moreover, teachers who do not currently hold a Green Pass will not be allowed to teach from home instead. Finally, in order to guarantee a continuous learning process for students, teachers will be required to notify their school principals whether they intend to get vaccinated or present a negative test each week in advance.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned during a cabinet meeting that the price of not providing Israel’s students with a continuous learning process might be catastrophic.
“Children who don’t go to school deteriorate in all parameters,” the prime minister said. “We must allow continuous learning. Otherwise, we’re raising a generation of zombies.”
Bennett continued by reiterating his commitment on avoiding lockdowns or further restrictions that lead to panic. “I want to stick to a path of calculated risk, not hysteria,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Health Ministry reported that 93% of those tested positive for COVID in the past week in Israel were unvaccinated or those who were vaccinated over six months ago.
On Sunday, Yaffa Ben-David, secretary-general of Israel’s Teachers’ Union, heavily criticized the idea of conditioning teachers and students to present negative tests in order to enter schools and said that the union would petition to the High Court of Justice against any directive of that kind.
“It’s a decree that [teachers] cannot stand behind for a simple reason – it contradicts the nature of their jobs … Their duty is to include students, to accept all of them, not to mention the compulsory education law,” Ben-David said.
“Someone must have lost their minds, and I apologize for speaking out so harshly,” she added.
Following the Health Ministry’s announcement on Thursday, Ran Erez, who serves as chair of Israel’s Secondary School Teachers Organization (SSTO), said that the decision to not pay teachers who refuse to vaccinate or test for COVID is unacceptable and called on the Israeli government to find additional ways of guaranteeing their livelihoods, Israeli media reported.
“The SSTO will do everything in its power to prevent financial harm to any of its members,” Erez said.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry reported Thursday that some 5,921 new cases were identified in Israel on Wednesday, with a 5.6% positive test rate. The number of daily cases has varied in the past couple of weeks due to the holidays, with new daily cases ranging from 3,000 to over 10,000.
The number of active COVID cases among Israeli students is nearly 38,000, according to Israeli media, with over 100,000 students currently in quarantine.