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Back to school maintained: despite Omicron, the government assumes to “sanctify the school”

Preserve learning without adding too much fuel to the pandemic. Once again, the government had to choose between several unsatisfactory solutions. At the end of a new defense council, Monday, December 27, Prime Minister Jean Castex affirmed his desire to remain, concerning schools, on the line already adopted: “Only close them as a last resort. ” The start of the school year will therefore indeed be on Monday, January 3.

→ EXPLANATION. Telework, vaccination pass, booster dose … New measures to contain Omicron

No question, either, to switch to distancing in colleges and high schools, said the head of government. “We take responsibility for securing the school. A child who does not go to school is a child who can encounter serious difficulties ”, added the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran.

A postponement requested

Unsurprisingly, the executive thus remained deaf to the request of 50 personalities from the world of health who, in an open letter published by the Sunday newspaper, this December 26, asked him to extend the school holidays. These professionals reported 300,000 children and adolescents tested positive before the holidays and an unprecedented increase in the number of hospitalizations among these groups (800 among those under 10 years old and 300 among 10-19 year olds in the space of a month and a half). The LR presidential candidate, Valérie Pécresse, had also pleaded for a postponement of the resumption of classes.

The government’s decision is a relief for Laurent Zameczkowski, spokesperson for the Peep federation. “Postponing the start of the school year would have rested the weight of the fifth wave on the parents, especially those in elementary school, forced into a form of confinement to keep their children, he analyzes. And that would only have shifted the problems. “

“We will expand our screening policy”, argued Jean Castex. An announcement that leaves Laurent Zameczkowski skeptical. “For many months now, we have been promised 600,000 saliva tests per week but no more than 200,000 are carried out for six million primary school students”, sighs the person in charge of the Peep.

Soon a third of teachers absent because of the Covid?

The government’s position is also straining education personnel. “We cannot leave like before the holidays, it was unmanageable”, annoys Guislaine David, general secretary of SNUipp. In each class, we had to deal with positive cases. It will quickly become untenable. “

The scientific council predicts hundreds of thousands of daily cases in January. What makes say to the epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet that, by the end of this same month, a third of the teachers could be affected, “Directly or indirectly”. For Guislaine David, it would be wise to “Return to the protocol in force in primary schools until the end of November, with the closure of the class from the first case” (and not from three, all students tested negative may, below this threshold, continue to come to class).

Asked about France Inter on Tuesday, December 28, Jean-Michel Blanquer excluded this hypothesis. But the Minister of Education evoked a probable evolution, in the days to come, of the rules applicable in primary education. “To return to class, you will have to do two tests several days apart”, he said, without specifying whether negative students will be able to go to class between these two tests.

→ READ. Covid-19: before the possible vaccination of 5-11 year olds, the school adjusts its strategy

President of the National Union of High Schools and Colleges (Snalc), Jean-Rémi Girard, for his part, deplores a lack of anticipation. “In many classrooms, it is impossible to ventilate properly because the windows barely open a few centimeters, and we did not see fit to carry out the work. Same thing for CO sensors2 : one in two high schools, one in three secondary schools are equipped with it, and again, generally only in a few classes… “

On this point, Jean-Michel Blanquer intends to re-mobilize the prefects and rectors. State financial support exists, to the tune of 20 million euros, to facilitate the equipment of establishments. But, recalled the Minister, this responsibility falls to the communities.


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