The students find the school benches on Monday, January 3, but parents and teachers approach the start of the school year in limbo in the face of health conditions and the exponential number of cases due to the Omicron variant. The health status quo was announced after a meeting on December 30 between the teachers’ unions and the ministry.
The latter published on December 31, three days before the start of the school year, the latest measures which maintain the health protocol adopted at the end of November in almost its entirety. In order to reduce the mixing between classes, level 3 (out of 4) still applies in elementary schools, like level 2 in middle and high schools. All classes will be face-to-face.
Closure of certain classes
The only change in the rules: in primary schools, if “A teacher is absent and while waiting for his replacement, the pupils cannot be divided into the other classes”, the Ministry of National Education announced on its website on December 31.
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The primary teachers’ unions demanded a return to the policy of closing a class from the first positive case, a measure which has not been in effect since November 29. Now, it takes three confirmed cases to close a class for seven days. On the eve of the holidays, 3,150 classes were closed in France due to the epidemic. And to return to class after a closure, students will still have to present a single negative test. The idea of requiring two negative tests several days apart, considered by Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, “Remains in abeyance and depends on the opinion of the High Authority for Health”, according to the unions.
“A cosmic denial”
“Teachers will no longer be able to drink their coffee standing up, but other security decisions remain pending arbitration”, deplores Sophie Vénétitay, general secretary of Snes-FSU. “There is no consideration of the Omicron variant, nothing allows us to return peacefully on Monday”, summarizes Guislaine David, spokesperson and secretary general of SNUipp-FSU.
If for many parents, the decision to keep schools open avoids a complicated professional situation, Laurent Zameczkowski, spokesperson for the Peep denounces “A cosmic denial” in terms of “Securing classrooms”, with in particular the absence of CO2 sensors, which this federation wishes to make compulsory.
“The school will not be able to remain open, she told AFP, while the students in contact will have to telework” and that teachers, when they themselves will not be positive for Covid-19, will have to manage distance and physical education, “Which is not possible”, warns the co-president of the FCPE, Carla Dugault. Especially since according to epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet that, by the end of January, a third of teachers could be affected, directly or indirectly, by covid.
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