The bill is steep: no less than 177 million euros. Last spring, the National Education has, says the ministry, bought 48 million self-tests. A figure to which must be added the 5 million additional tests made available by Public Health France. However, at the time of the start of the school year, many establishments find themselves with cupboards full of unused kits.
→ ANALYSIS. Self-tests greeted with skepticism in high schools
Rue de Grenelle, it is assured that 32 million of these tests were “Distributed” teachers, as well as middle and high school students. But for Didier Georges, national secretary of SNPDEN, the main union of management staff, the reality is undoubtedly well below.
Distributed but not necessarily used
On the basis of statistics reported each week to the rectorates from mid-May, this union official mentions “A total fiasco”. In his former establishment in any case, a Parisian college, only 11 of the 57 boxes received were distributed to teachers. Even worse : “At the end of the school year, I asked the teachers concerned what use they had made of it. Half had not opened the box. The others had used only one of the tests, to remove a doubt, punctually. “ And this, while the ministry recommended regular use, to limit the spread of the virus as much as possible.
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In his former college, Didier Georges did not offer collective screening for his students. “Only the school nurse used self-tests for students with symptoms that could suggest Covid. But their number can be counted on the fingers of one hand “, he says.
The National Secretary of SNPDEN “Do not criticize” government strategy. He prefers to invoke “Bad timing”, the self-tests having reached the establishments at the end of the school year, at a time when the pandemic was on the decline. But Didier Georges also recognizes “resistance” from many of his colleagues.
This is also true in the private sector, where the main organization of school leaders, Snceel, had refused to organize screenings for lack of external reinforcements to supervise the use of tests. “The teachers felt it was not their responsibility. And besides, the parents were hardly in favor of it ”, assures its president Vivien Joby. Not a single test has been carried out in his establishment in Saint-Malo. What to do with all these boxes? “We are awaiting the instructions from the ministry”, he replies, while pointing “A mess”.
Do not scramble the message
National Education, it argues that “6.5 million self-tests were reassigned this summer to summer camps and leisure centers”. But we hardly see how the majority of unused boxes could not be wasted, especially as their expiration date varies, depending on the case, between mid-fall and early 2022.
“We will distribute the self-tests to students or teachers who want them”, slips Didier Georges. ” Corn, he concedes, it would be confusing the message to promote their use, when the government’s strategy is based on vaccination, offered in particular in secondary schools. “
There is also no question of sending the self-tests, which require a nasal swab with a swab, to primary schools. Often presented as possible vectors of the pandemic because they educate children who are not of age to be vaccinated, they will continue to offer saliva tests, less intrusive. The government’s goal is to achieve 600,000 per week.