what have our European neighbors decided in the face of Omicron?

Like France, many of them have chosen to keep classes open at the beginning of the school year in January by focusing on mass testing, with generally quite similar rules.

Should schools remain open at all costs? The question has been ubiquitous since the start of the school year in January. Faced with Omicron, which affects children more, the French government opts for a massive screening system based on self-tests. But the protocol, eased twice in a week, is angering teachers’ unions who are going on strike this Thursday and a “rubbish“in schools.”Shutting down from the first case of Covid would be easier and safer for everyoneestimated a school principal from the south of France, interviewed by Le Figaro † What about our European neighbours, who are also exposed to Omicron? Are they doing it differently or better than us?

No closure

If the strategies diverge, the goal remains unanimous: to maintain the course of face-to-face courses as much as possible. †Face-to-face education is a matter of equal opportunities. We must do everything we can to keep schools opentweeted German Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger. The option of a total closure of classes as in 2020 is no longer on the agenda.

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On the eve of the Christmas holidays, only three countries anticipated school closures. Pupils in the Netherlands and Belgium went on holiday a week earlier, while Denmark imposed distance learning in schools three to seven days before the end of classes. For these three countries, the start of the new school year in January went well on schedule. Only students from the Netherlands are required to take all their courses online.

The preferred strategy for mass screening

In France, the rules of the last protocol in force, updated on January 10, are as follows: if a case is declared positive, the class will not be closed. Parents should collect their child when they leave school and return them only after a negative result by self-test, PCR or antigen. On D+2 and D+4, two more self-tests are needed to confirm this result, with written confirmation from the parents. Same if the child is a contact case.

If some point to a cacophonous and ineffective strategy, with classes close in number, many of our European neighbors have made the same choice, with variations in the number or nature of tests, PCR, antigens or saliva.

l’Germany and theAustria, the first to bet on tests at school from spring 2021, also have generalized saliva tests for the little ones, which France has not yet admitted. On the German side, each region organizes its own protocol, from wearing a mask to the frequency of ventilation to handling distance. According to “federal statestudents should be tested two or three times a week. But since September, the surgery has become routine for teachers. If positive, the child is collected by his parents and isolated pending confirmation by PCR.

To avoid absenteeism, the federal government has defined a general framework on school isolation rules, which are more flexible than for adults. Pupils with contact cases only have to stay at home for five days and return to school is done with an antigen test.

In Belgium, the students returned to school in January with a recommended self-test performed the day before. From now on, they will go through the self-test once a week. For four positive cases, including the teacher, the class will be closed for five days.

Bee Denmark, the rule is to test all students and their teachers, without exception, twice a week. Copenhagen also relies on the vaccination of children, encouraged from the age of 5.

France also has nothing to envy to the complexity of the protocol that exists in Italy† The government of Mario Draghi has decided to adapt the rules to the different levels. In kindergarten, all students are sent home at the slightest case of Covid. In primary school, a declared case leads to a PCR or antigen test for all children, to be repeated at D+5. In middle and high school, up to two positive cases in a class allow contact cases to come, but with an FFP2 mask for at least 10 days. If a 3rd case is declared, the class will be closed and switch to distance learning.

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Rehabilitated masks

Bee UKthe time is earlier on the “flexibilityand adaptation. †Face-to-face education has the highest priority“The Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, said in a letter to teaching staff at the beginning of the school year. In order to maintain as much personal contact as possible despite the absences, the minister encouraged to merge the classes, using volunteer retired teachers, the rest of the site staff and contractors. The minister also advocates optimal ventilation and promises 300,000 carbon dioxide sensors and 7,000 air purifiers for institutions. As for the screening, students are simply encouraged to take an antigen test twice a week, the results of which can be entered on the Ministry of Health website.

Despite everything, the teaching staff also curses about the Channel. Several unions found these measures insufficient in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and called for more resources.

What about the mask? It made its big comeback in mid-November in primary schools in France, facing the wave of Omicron. Several other countries have also rehabilitated it. The Belgium has made it mandatory in schools since December 6, from the age of 6. Bee UKUntil then, it was reserved for the outside, but the government decided on January 4 that middle and high school students from the age of 11 should wear the mask in classrooms. For primary school students, however, the measure was firmly rejected.

In Spain, the mandatory mask for staff and children from 6 years old, and this since 2020, remains the only special rule for schools. No testing required, just the simple practice of barrier gestures.


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