Rule change: since Monday, March 29, in the 19 departments subject to new confinement, it is enough for a student to be detected positive for his class to be closed. A clear hardening since until now, the threshold was set at three Covid cases (except if it was the Brazilian or South African variant). A strengthening of the protocol justified by the recent outbreak of the virus in schools. At the last weekly count, unveiled Friday, March 26, there were 21,000 infected students, against 15,000 a week earlier. And 21,000 classes had closed, or a thousand more.
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To fully understand the consequences of this new protocol, it will probably be necessary to wait for the next assessment provided by the national education system on April 2. But already, information from the field confirms what everyone was anticipating: class closures are accelerating.
The very critical case of Seine-Saint-Denis
“As the new rule applies to the cases declared since Saturday, it is not yet very spectacular, even if of course it goes up”, one indicates to the rectorate of Paris. “I have just received the lifts from two schools in Seine-Saint-Denis. In one, there are 9 closed classes out of 12, and 6 out of 10 in the other ”, indicates for her part Caroline Marchand, departmental co-secretary of the first degree union SNUipp, who filed a strike notice for three weeks to allow colleagues too concerned about the situation not to come to work.
In this department, the most affected in France by the pandemic, with 790 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, “Today, on average, two or three classes are closed per college or high school”, advances Radouane Mhamdi, the principal of the André Bouloche high school in Livry-Gargan and departmental secretary of the SNPDEN school leaders’ union.
The Eugène-Delacroix high school in Drancy alone has 22 closed classes, ten more than last week, a measure that affects around 500 of its 2,400 students. Some teachers at this establishment have exercised their right of withdrawal.
No regular testing
“Despite this new protocol, many teachers remain worried, observes Caroline Marchand. Because this strategy is only relevant if we practice regular tests. In most facilities, saliva tests were only offered once. And again, the laboratories being overwhelmed in Seine-Saint-Denis, it happened that we waited a week for the results, a week during which the child continues to go to school, to have lunch in the canteen… ” And the union official to continue: “Apart from these operations, some parents have their children tested but sometimes continue to send them to class, even if they are positive, for example because they are not able to keep them at home…”
For Radouane Mhamdi, the new protocol has limits, in particular in high school, where the notion of class has become much more vague, especially after the recent abolition of courses. “The pupils of a class are together for the most part of the subjects of the common core but they mingle with comrades of other classes for the specialty lessons, as well as for the language courses, the options, the sport… A high school student positive for Covid was in contact with a minimum of 30 to 60 students “, argues this principal.
In this context, also marked by the glaring lack of replacements to take over from sick teachers or contact cases, the UDI deputy of Seine-Saint-Denis, Jean-Christophe Lagarde, calls for an immediate closure of schools, colleges and high schools in the department .