Under current protocol, a positive case detected in a kindergarten or primary grade results in a one-week closure.
“We are quite surprised by the speed with which the epidemic is spreading in schools,” confided Guislaine David, co-secretary-general of the teachers’ union SNUipp-FSU. In the midst of the fifth epidemic wave, primary schools and kindergartens seem to have been hit hard by the epidemic, justifying closing classes at an ever-sustaining pace. So far, the health protocol states that the discovery of a positive case in a kindergarten or primary grade leads to immediate closure.
At Tuesday’s General Assembly, the figures presented by Jean-Michel Blanquer, Minister of National Education, illustrate the phenomenon. “While I speak to you, 6000 classes are closed.” At the last point made last Friday, this number was 4000.
“These numbers are indeed the ones we feared. Especially because of the 4,000 classes that were closed on Friday, many of them reopened on Monday. Because if a class is closed, it’s only closed for a week. So there are not 2,000 more classes that have closed their doors since Friday, but many more”, analyzes Hubert Salaün, spokesperson for the Federation of Parents of Pupils in Public Education (PEEP).
The rules will change soon
At the beginning of October, 10 departments had started an experiment with the aim of no longer closing a class from the first positive case, but to test all students and isolate only the positive cases. It is this solution that the government has chosen, as it must announce this Thursday the end of the automatic class closures of the first case of Covid-19, according to our information.
On November 14, the mask returned to all schools, contact sports were banned and mixing between levels was restricted, as part of the health protocol’s transition to level 2.
According to Guislaine David, these numbers for class closures can be explained by “the number of cases among children, which is increasing in importance”. Indeed, the most recent data published by Public Health France has shown a sharp increase in the incidence in children aged 6 to 10 years, reaching almost 150% in one week.
Mass testing in the classroom?
Faced with dynamics that appear to be strengthening, and as the government prepares to announce new measures to stem the wave this Thursday, unions are calling for massive tests at school.
“We promote the idea of students being tested with saliva tests twice a week, to provide a daily picture of the state of the pandemic in national education. Minister Blanquer had promised 600,000, last week only 140,000 were carried out.. “We feel that the National Education does not have the strength to lift the right levers. By asking for such a number of tests, today it is tantamount to writing a letter to Santa Claus,” ironically Hubert Salaun.
Concerns about the level of the students
Stopping classes from closing automatically can reduce the fear of remote student tracking. “For the first grade it is extremely complicated to teach remotely… Imagine small CP, CE1… You have to be constantly next to them. Especially because the problems with training and resources related to digital technology in school have not been arranged,” says Guislaine David.
“Parents are very concerned. Firstly because they are afraid of being mistaken for the bad student by asking their employer for days to take care of their children, but also because of their school level. In September 2019 they will have completed their education. entire secondary school under very special conditions,” said Hubert Salaün.
Asked on Wednesday about the possibility of moving the health protocol in schools to level 3, which would lead to a “hybridization” of classes in secondary schools, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said: “In principle, I never rule out anything for the future”.