April 12, 2021 12:38 PM
Whether you call it GAP year, Shana Baaretz, Sem or Yeshiva this year everyone found themselves in a similar situation. Covid brought with it a new set of challenges for the schools. Right from the beginning it wasn’t even sure if the schools would be allowed to open. There was a lot of uncertainty. “We didn’t know if we should start hiring people or continue our rental lease on the building” said one School Administrator. Once the Ministry of Health released its set of requirements, many schools paid money to have a pandemic liason come to the school to have it checked if it met the MOH requirements. These requirements entailed making sure the schools had a proper place for the two week isolation upon arrival to properly house the students in capsules. Arrangements for individual food. A “corona representative” needed to be nominated to ensure people are aware and follow the rules. Alcogel, kits, gloves, plastic sheeting, proper cleaning crew and facilities. These costs were even before any students set foot in Israel. Many hours of discussion and decision making. One great thing did happen , Corona connected schools as never before, whether through the Igud, whatsapp, zoom, or other, all got together for a common cause. The whole face of the seminary year changed, said one Em Bayit, in previous years it was all about the students, interacting with families living in Israel, getting a real taste of Israeli lifestyle. Visiting sites, the Kotel and falling in love with the country. This year was mainly about corona and isolation, but we made the most of it. While most schools got through the initial isolation period with no outbreaks, there isn’t a school who didn’t meet up with the virus throughout the year. Some even multiple times. “Having medical guidance was key this year”, One Rabbi confided. “We had AIM and Dr. Eagle who was readily available and up to date with all the ever changing MOH requirements we wouldn’t have gotten through the year without him. Following the guidelines, he helped minimize outbreaks and properly care for the students.” The Israeli Government worked hard in setting up drive throughs and sites for corona testing which students visited throughout the year. The vaccination itself brought a whole new set of excitement and many memorable selfies. One thing is for sure, this year in Israel and around the world will not be forgotten in a hurry. Happy to not have forgoed on this year, one student reports- “I wouldn’t change it in a million years! Best experience EVER!”
April 11, 2021 12:43 PM
11/4/21 Update Returning students Students who are not “let out” of bidud automatically Schools with returning students who are not machlim / mechusan Green pass update Returning Students: Many students who left for Pesach have returned or are returning this week. A couple of important points. The government is using its own system to decide who requires bidud and who does not. It is not a perfect system. We have had students who were immunized at the same time in the same school by the same person and one was released from bidud automatically and one was not. It is important to emphasize to the students that if they are not let out of bidud automatically, not to stress, we can help them get out of bidud. Process for Students who are not “let out” of bidud automatically Any student who had a positive COVID19 PCR, positive COVID19 Antibody test or two COVID19 vaccinations done in Israel should get out of bidud automatically. A student who meets one of these criteria and is not let out automatically, should send one of the following: their official positive COVID19 PCR result along with their letter of recovery from AIM their positive COVID19 Antibody result from the lab along with their letter of recovery from AIM Their teudat Chisun from AIM To one of the following places: https://govforms.gov.il/mw/forms/QuarantineExceptionExit@health.gov.il LBJEPID@moh.health.gov.il Bidudexit@moh.gov.il The responses are fairly quick. Schools with returning students who are not machlim / mechusan Schools that have returning students who require bidud should reach out to me directly to discuss how to set up the school to allow the students the most flexibility. It does not have to be as restrictive as it was to begin the year. Green Pass At this time, many of our students have been able to get their Green pass. It is unfortunately not working for everyone, but the government continues to work on it. Anyone who had a positive COVID19 PCR, positive COVID19 Antibodies, or is at least a week past their second vaccination is eligible for a green passport. If they are having issues, they should call *5400 and confirm their passport number and phone number are correct. Please remind them that if they do not get text messages on their phone, they should contact *5400 for alternative ways of confirming their details. The website is: https://corona.health.gov.il/green-pass/ SIncerely, Dr Steven Eagle AIM Medical director
June 23, 2020 12:14 PM
Coronavirus update: I hope everyone is healthy and safe. We continue to prepare for the arrival of students for next year. We are meeting with each school, having discussions with government officials and following the data in Israel as well as home countries for our students. Each school has a Coronavirus preparation plan that is continuously being updated as new data and regulations are available. We are confident the regulations will allow students into the country and they will be able to have a spectacular year. We are available for any questions you have and will continue to be available throughout the year. Looking forward to a safe and healthy year. Steven Eagle, MD AIM Medical Director
May 27, 2020 11:31 AM
Dear Parents, As we look towards the next academic year, we have been working very closely with your child’s school in Israel to make sure that we provide a safe and healthy experience. We are in frequent contact with Misrad Habriut (The Ministry of Health in Israel) about their policies and how best to protect your children. We have detailed plans on how to prevent transmission of Coronavirus as well as other infectious diseases. We have quarantine plans for individuals and separate quarantine plans for the whole school if that is necessary. We are advising the school on what supplies are necessary to be in place as well as what supplies each student needs to bring to Israel. We are prepared for next year with increased services including a brand new telemedicine service. As new information and plans are created by Misrad Habriut, we will be updating the students, schools and parents about those changes as well.
Covid-19 Updates 3/1/2020- Dr Steven Eagle- AIM Medical Director.
May 27, 2020 11:31 AM
Coronavirus and update about AIM policies that we have crafted with Misrad Habriut (The Department of Health in Israel). We at AIM and Misrad Habriut take this very seriously. Our shared goal is to prevent the spread of the disease in Israel. The Coronavirus is a virus that started in China and has recently begun spreading to other countries. Currently, there has not been anyone infected in Israel. The people in Israel who do have the virus were on a cruise in Japan where they contracted it. They remain hospitalized under quarantine. There has been NO person to person transmission in Israel Misrad Habriut has been very active and very strict in making sure that there is no transmission of Coronavirus in Israel. Anyone who comes from a country with an outbreak is placed on home quarantine for 14 days. Anyone on quarantine who has any symptoms is tested. Anyone who is found positive is transferred in specific ambulances to specific hospitals. They remain under quarantine in the hospital None of the students in any of the schools we work with are at risk or under quarantine. Testing for the virus is only done by Misrad Habriut and only in people who they determine are at risk. We can not get the testing done without Misrad Habriut. The symptoms are similar to a common cold or the flu, but are often more severe. The risk to a student contracting Coronavirus without a known exposure is almost zero. We will be following all of Misrad Habriut’s protocols very strictly. Our protocols are an additional level of vigilance on top of Misrad Habriut’s protocols. They are here to protect students. Any student who travels to an affected region and is required to be on quarantine will not be quarantined within the school. This is critical because it would require the entire school to be quarantined. If we have a student in this situation, we at AIM along with misrad habriut will work with the school to arrange for an appropriate place for quarantine. Students going away for Shabbat will be required to ask if there is anyone quarantined in the house. If there is, the student will not be permitted to go there for Shabbat, Anyone who travels outside of Israel will be required to inform the school of what countries they are going to and stopping at, even if it is just a stop-over. Prior to the student leaving Israel, the school will clear those countries with AIM to confirm they have not been added to misrad habriut’s list of affected areas. We will be asking students for a list of their travel plans for Pesach so we can monitor the situation going forward.
3/8/2020- Medical update from Dr. Steven Eagle
May 27, 2020 11:31 AM
Regarding the Coronavirus from Misrad Habriut (The Department of Health in Israel). Currently, all the people infected have either traveled to a region where coronavirus is prevalent or have had direct contact with someone who was later confirmed to have coronavirus. Anyone who has been found to be infected remains hospitalized under quarantine. Misrad Habriut has been very active and very strict in making sure that there is no transmission of Coronavirus in Israel. Anyone who comes from a country with an outbreak is placed on home quarantine for 14 days. Anyone on quarantine who has any symptoms is tested. Anyone who is found positive is transferred in specific ambulances to specific hospitals. They remain under quarantine in the hospital Any student who is required to be on quarantine as per Misrad Habriut guidelines, should discuss with the school if they can be quarantined in a room in the school or if they can be quarantined at a family or friend in Israel who are able to follow ministry of health guidelines. Students going away for Shabbat will need to inquire if there is anyone quarantined in the house. If there is, the student should not go there for Shabbat, Anyone who travels outside of Israel will be required to inform the school of what countries they are going to and stopping at, even if it is just a stop-over. Prior to the student leaving Israel, the school will check those countries to confirm they have not been added to misrad habriut’s list of affected areas. Students are required to inform the school of their travel plans for Pesach so they can monitor the situation going forward. At this time, the only countries on Misrad Habriut’s list requiring mandatory 14 day quarantine are China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Hong Kong, Thailand, Macau, Austria, Switzerland, San Marino and Andorra. This is subject to change.
4/26/2020- How has COVID effected the GAP year.
May 27, 2020 11:31 AM
With the outbreak of the Corona, many of the school and Yeshivot who bring students to Israel for the year were left with the dilemma. Some schools shut down, some left the decision to the parents , some stayed open and some continued to teach via zoom. With the rules rapidly changing, with a virus we are all still learning, one thing is for sure, everyone has had to change their strategy. Dr Eagle, medical director of AIM said “with the outbreak of corona, AIM swiftly moved over to Telemedicine” offering video consults with the doctors and referrals and digital prescriptions accordingly. Dr Eagle is confident that the GAP years will continue next year, but will probably have to make modification to meet the ministry of health’s guidelines. “We are seeing a decrease in numbers, we need to take precautions but Israel has been quick to act and protect its citizens” said Eagle. “It makes me confident if the populations follow the rules we will be able to see a return to a new normal soon” Many are confident that the travel will resume with new regulations. The public is ready to accept this. An AIM survey with GAP year parents show that parents are happy with the way Israel has reacted and some even feel it was safer to leave the children in Eretz Yisroel. One parent wrote “In Israel, my son had AIM which meant he could get access to doctors on an immediate basis. This is something that is impossible in NY where I live” “Schools are looking to move forward and make the necessary changes for the year ahead, to ensure the safety and health of their students and ensure they have the Israel Experience for that important year of their lives” Says Mrs Shoshana Berman, Administrator for AIM
May 27, 2020 11:31 AM
Many insurances in Israel are not accepting foreigners on their plan next year. Some are excluding Corona from their coverage. Does this apply to AIM? No. We continue to be open for business and will be open for business again next year. We have been covering foreign students for the past 32 years and will continue to do so. We specifically made sure that Corona coverage is part of our plan, regardless which plan the student is on.
May 27, 2020 11:31 AM
The government voted at midnight last night to eliminate the bidud (quarantine) hotels. This is a first step in the direction of allowing our students in next year. At this moment, foreigners are still not allowed in to Israel, but it is a good step forward.
May 27, 2020 11:31 AM
Will Corona antibodies be used by MoH to determine if bidud (quarantine) is necessary. Currently, no. Antibody testing is readily available in the US, but not Israel. The MoH is currently not accepting antibody tests even for Israelis returning from outside of Israel. The FDA approved antibody tests (currently only one specific brand of test) work, the question is just what level of antibodies provides immunity which no one knows yet. On a positive note, the MoH is starting a study testing Israelis (starting in Bnei Brak) to help determine the some of these answers. If this progresses, it may be necessary for all students to have documentation of this test prior to coming for the year. If this happens, we will prepare a letter to send to parents. I would not recommend your students for next year get it at this point.