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Thousands of students in dozens of Israeli schools sent home to isolation over COVID-19 outbreaks

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Thousands of students in Jerusalem and other cities across the country were sent home Monday to isolation after staff and students were found to have COVID-19.

Schools in Israel began opening more than two weeks ago after isolating for nearly two months due to the coronavirus.

Students from some 35 schools and kindergartens in Jerusalem, Hadera, Ashdod and Beersheba were officially diagnosed with the coronavirus. Some schools completely shut down, others announced that they will reopen in several days.

As of Monday morning, more than 4,500 students and 734 staff members across the country were sent to quarantine, according to the Education Ministry.

One school in the northern Israeli city of Hadera, for example, sent 2,180 students and teachers into isolation after one student was diagnosed with the deadly virus. The school was temporarily shut down. The Gymnasia Rehavia high school in Jerusalem has had over 130 students and staff members diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Israel in recent days has seen a steep increase in the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The increases come as Israel continues to relax restrictions that were put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including opening up workplaces, schools and malls.

On Sunday, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein told the Cabinet at its weekly meeting that there was a fivefold increase of Israelis who tested positive for COVID-19 the previous day alone.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday night that the coming days would be “a test to see if there is a change in trend that would require a change of policy,” such as closing education institutions.