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Covid-19: the end of the mask in primary school, between joy and worry



Since June 17, most students from CP to CM2 were exempt from wearing masks in the playground. From Monday, October 4, those who reside in the departments where the incidence rate of Covid-19 is less than 50 per 100,000 inhabitants will be able to get rid of it in class, as well as in all the closed places of the establishment. . Announced at the end of the defense council of Wednesday, September 22, this measure should concern about half of the French departments.

→ THE FACTS. Covid-19: soon the end of the compulsory mask in primary school in some departments

Mother of a 7-year-old boy, Alice Cras learned the news on France Info. “My son was with me, and it made us both very happy. I am not a doctor, therefore unable to say if this is a good idea in terms of health, but for the well-being of children, it is clearly positive ”, confides this young school teacher, still amazed by the joy that had seized her students during the first “recess” without a mask.

Enthusiasm and fears

A “Release”, This is also how Ronan Lessard, head of establishment at the Saint-Charles institution in Athis-Mons (Essonne), conceives of the partial abandonment of the mask at school. But the relief of the vice-president of Synadec, organization of heads of establishments of Catholic education, is quickly veiled of concern.. “If we have managed to avoid closures so far in my school, it is probably because we have respected the principle of the mask indoors and even, for safety, outdoors”, he raises.

→ EXPLANATION. Covid-19: the school apparently spared by the fourth wave

With Stéphane Crochet also, the fear of a premature release disputes him with enthusiasm. “The four waves taught us that a situation can be reversed quickly, underlines the secretary general of SE-Unsa. It would be a shame if we ended up with an outbreak like the one we experienced last March, where the situation has become unmanageable. ”

While 3,000 primary classes have already had to close since the start of the school year, this union official fears that the figures are largely underestimated, knowing that the saliva test campaign – 600,000 tests promised each week in primary – just resume ” gradually “, indicates the ministry.

For Ronan Lessard, it is especially the period that questions. “We are out of the summer and soon it will no longer be possible to work with the windows open”, remarks the school principal.

Let the children breathe

Paradoxically, doctors are the happiest. Since the summer, pediatricians have been urging the government to “To smile” to schoolchildren by exempting them from the mask. “At first, we accepted it because it was a sine qua non for the opening of schools, but there is a point where it has to stop”, considers Dr Fabienne Kochert, President of the French Association for Ambulatory Pediatrics (Afpa).

Especially since most of the infected students are not in class but at home, she notes. “Of course, they are more contagious with the delta variant, but now that most frail people are vaccinated, we can afford to let them breathe. “

“As with vaccination, you have to balance the benefits and the risks, adds Professor Jean-Paul Stahl, head of the infectious disease department at Grenoble University Hospital. On the one hand, we have 50 million people vaccinated, or as many people protected, at least for the most part. On the other, children whose development suffers greatly from the mask. The calculation is quickly done. ”

Hand washing must continue

But the end of the mask should not sign the stopping of barrier gestures, warn the doctors. “Especially hand washing. It is a good habit that must continue. ” The rest does not depend on the schoolchildren but on the establishments, which must ensure good surface hygiene and better ventilation of the classrooms.

→ TRIBUNE. “For the education of children, compulsory vaccination of adults is necessary”

To the mixed feelings of each other is finally grafted a regret, unanimous: that of seeing the professors a priori excluded from this measure. For months, however, they have been warning about their difficulties in teaching with half a face hidden. “When you learn to pronounce, to read, you have to be able to watch the adult’s mouth form the words”, recalls Stéphane Crochet. If children’s morale should improve, “The repercussion on learning is likely to be limited”.

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The health pass maintained throughout the territory

“Very effective tool”, health pass“Continues to apply under the same conditions as today”, said government spokesman Gabriel Attal after the defense council on September 22.

A bill will be presented by Jean Castex on October 13 in the Council of Ministers, in order to extend its use, which was initially planned until November 15.

“Adaptation criteria” are nevertheless being developed to take into account local incidence rates, as well as vaccination rates among the population.

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