You are here

Ultra-Orthodox make up half of all Israeli students infected with virus

More than half of Israeli students infected with coronavirus come from the ultra-Orthodox sector, the Education Ministry said Thursday. The ultra-Orthodox sector has been disproportionately affected by the health crisis, while last week coronavirus czar Prof. Ronnie Gamzu said 40% of all new COVID-19 cases in Israel originated in the Haredi community.

The ministry said 51.8% of school children who have contracted COVID-19 study in ultra-Orthodox institutions, says the report prepared by the Education Ministry for health officials. According to the report, Haredi students make up 19.39% of the total student body in Israel and is 448,298 strong. According to the ministry, 1.75% of them have already been infected by the virus.

Only 0.63% of non-Haredi students, around 15,285, have contracted COVID-19. At least 9.8% of them reside in the center of the country, 9.7% in the north, 5% in Jerusalem and 7.8% in the south. At least 1,348 teaching staff have also been infected with the pathogen.

In the meantime, the ministry announced on Wednesday that in light of the limitations imposed on the education system due to coronavirus, Israel will not participate in the OECS's PISA tests conducted annually to asses student's academic achievements. The OECD announced it will postpone all PISA testing slated for 2021 for one year.

Education Minister Yoav Galant said this "unusual" year requires "unusual" adjustments. "Postponement of assessment tests along with our vast investment in technological advancements to our digital systems, to narrow the gab between sectors of our society, is the essence of our policy," he said. "It is evident to all that we will have to respond to the educational gaps caused by the coronavirus pandemic as well as the needs of our students and we are preparing in advance to address these issues," Galant added.

Schools have been closed under health mitigation directives since mid-September and it remains unclear when and under what restrictions they will be allowed to reopen, as part of the country's exit strategy that has not yet been decided on by the government.

Tamar Trbelsi-Hadad