How long will the school hold with the current protocol? The question is on everyone’s lips, as the ministry released worrying new figures. There are thus more than 9,200 classes which, as of Thursday, January 6, had been closed (against a little less than 3,000 on Christmas eve and 11,200 at the height of the crisis, in April 2021). This represents 1.7% of the total number of classes. These statistics may surprise because the rules, in the primary, were significantly lightened at the beginning of the year.
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Why this rebound in closures? Because, in the first stage, where each class has a teacher, replacement capacities do not make it possible to compensate for massive absences. And, even when the teacher is present, a class is likely to close if the number of positive students is very high. It is up to the Rectorate’s Covid cell to assess the situation, after discussion with management and in conjunction with the health authorities and the prefecture. One thing is certain: all degrees combined, there are far fewer teachers affected by the Covid (around 5,600) than closed classes. Others are in contact or absent for other reasons.
“Colleagues are cracking”
In secondary education, where each class has a teacher per subject, the problem is posed differently. In principle, the absence of one or more teachers does not prevent the reception of students. At Lycée Thibaut de Champagne, in Provins (Seine-et-Marne), it is a combination of factors that explains the decision to close. “The epidemic situation is still worrying, the number of staff on leave is still very high and combined with a very sustained strike movement, the safety of students and staff can not be ensured, classes will be suspended on Friday January 7, 2022 and replaced by distance learning courses ”, indicates the site of the establishment.
“Locally, other establishments are already experiencing strikes, especially in Seine-Saint-Denis, to denounce sanitary conditions which no longer allow peaceful teaching”, indicates Dominique Chauvin, co-secretary general of Snes in the academy of Créteil. About fifteen establishments are concerned in the academy, specifies the rectorate. Several organizations, including his own, could follow in the footsteps of SNUipp and SE-Unsa which announced Friday January 7 a national strike movement for Thursday January 13.
“Colleagues are cracking”, explains Guislaine David, general secretary of SNUipp. “The directors, in particular, are monopolized by health management, according to new rules presented on the eve of the recovery. They must send children home when an absent teacher is not replaced. They also have to manage the parents’ certificates when the students return to class after the occurrence of a positive case in the class ”, she sighs, convinced that the best solution would be a return to the principle applied from April to November: a positive case and the whole class isolates itself for a week.
“A bit as if we were asked to pretend”
“With the multiplication of the number of cases, we have the feeling of no longer controlling the situation at all”, recognizes Carole Zerbib, principal in Paris and member of the SNPDEN executive. “We are asked to limit the mixing of students, which we do by reserving part of the buildings at each level. But in first and final year, almost half of the courses, especially those of specialization, bring together students from different classes. Not to mention the canteen, where we have lunch shoulder to shoulder … “
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Paradoxically, observes Carole Zerbib, with each epidemic outbreak, the rules are lightened in order to be able to keep the establishments open. “A bit as if the government had decided to let the virus slip away and asked us collectively to pretend to fight against its progress. Families have heard the message. Many will content themselves with writing a sworn certificate on D + 2 and D + 4 without having submitted their child to a self-test. This morning, some students even came to tell me that a classmate was coming to class despite a positive PCR test carried out two days ago, after the appearance of a case in his entourage … “