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The Omicron variant, a catalyst for teacher discomfort



A historic strike. The adjective is on many lips, on the eve of a movement decided only a few days ago. It is difficult to know if the processions will really fill up, in a tense health context. But, estimates the Parisian principal Didier Georges, this movement is already a date.

“Not only are all the federates calling for a strike, but in each one of them, all the bodies are concerned, teachers, managers and even inspectors! “, observes this national secretary of SNPDEN. “Among school leaders, we have to go back to 2007 to find such a united front”, he insists, specifying that many of his colleagues will declare themselves strikers, while continuing to carry out their missions.

“A real wear and tear”

In the first degree, in any case, the SNUipp, the main union, foresees 75% of strikers and 50% of schools closed. And the private sector, too, should here and there enter into protest. ” In twenty-one years of my career, this is the first time that I have come across teachers – four out of 14 – who announce that they are on strike., confides Virginie Bécourt, at the head of a Catholic school in Asnières (Hauts-de-Seine). I do not know if this is the solution, but their fed up is shared by the principals. “

“We are on the front line to enforce a junk protocol which does not reassure many people, but complicates our lives and places us at odds with families., she continues. Moreover, some colleagues have decided to retire earlier than expected so as not to risk re-entering the school year under such conditions. “”We note a real wear, confirms Philippe Delorme, secretary general of Catholic education. It is due to the cumbersome health rules as well as to the fear of being affected by the disease. “

Should it switch to distancing to stop the spread of the virus? Or relieve the burden on personnel, even if it means fighting the pandemic with less enthusiasm? Clearly, the government opted for the second option, announcing three protocol cuts in the space of eight days.

→ READ. Covid-19: the new reduction in the protocol at school does not convince

From now on, if a positive case occurs in a class, his classmates only have to carry out three self-tests, with, for the first, a certificate on the honor of the parents. We have the impression that the non-closure of classes is a dogma, which today requires that the pandemic slip away, laments Didier Georges. We expose teachers who are sometimes fragile to a variant that is probably less dangerous but much more contagious.

Ministerial figures “necessarily false”

This SNPDEN official points out the figures “Necessarily false” put forward by the ministry. “There are 60,000 schools, colleges and high schools in France. Jean-Michel Blanquer mentions 50,000 positive pupils, ie less than one pupil per establishment on average. On our WhatsApp group, none of my Parisian colleagues announces less than 30 confirmed positive cases. Some have 150… And nationally, among 10-19 year olds, the incidence rate exceeds 2,200 per 100,000! “

Translation: at least 100,000 young people educated in the second degree alone would be positive. “Our figures are necessarily out of step with those of Public Health France”, recognizes the entourage of the minister. Because they are based on the declarative. If parents keep their child at home without telling the school that they are positive, how do you know? Our overall trends, on the other hand, are similar to those of Public Health France., he argues.

School, an adaptation variable

Anyway, all the unions wear out the communication of Jean-Michel Blanquer. In particular, the announcement of new rules, the night before the resumption, simultaneously, on the website of the ministry and in an interview posted online by The ParisianThis episode added a dose of exasperation to an accumulation of fatigue which, for some, leads to burnout., summarizes Alexis Torchet, national secretary of Sgen-CFDT, union which hesitated to participate in this strike, before siding with the opinion of its base.

→ EDITORIAL. School, the great disorganization

The minister’s office also recalls that the communication of the protocol could not take place before the opinion of the High Council for Public Health requested by the government, then the definition of the general strategy, announced by Olivier Véran on the same Sunday, January 3. But the unions speak openly about “Contempt”. Which also speaks, judge the secretary general of the SNUipp Guislaine David, “In the refusal to provide FFP2 masks to teachers, not even to nursery school teachers, who teach unmasked children”.

“Jean-Michel Blanquer is deeply convinced that closing classes is to accentuate the social divide”, nuance the political scientist Stéphane Rozès, president of the consulting firm, analyzes and perspectives. “But the staff feel that school is also the variable of adaptation in the face of societal or economic challenges, such as the objective of allowing parents to continue working. “

The Blanquer method

While with the Grenelle, he contributed to a necessary revaluation of the profession, the minister does not show here the minimum respect to his teachers, who for a long time feel the unloved of society, comments ex-professor Stéphane Piednoir, LR vice-president of the culture, education and communication committee in the Senate.

The minister mainly sinned by excess of insurance, bypassing the intermediate bodies or reducing them to simple transmission belts, considers for his part a former director of central administration. Basically, approves the socio-historian Laurent Frajerman, associate researcher at the University of Paris, Jean-Michel Blanquer adopts “A Napoleonic approach, with a summit that thinks it can decide everything”. Except that“Then, it is basically to manage”.

→ CHRONICLE. From wave to wave

The pandemic has also, paradoxically, spared the government from protest movements that would otherwise not have failed to occur in response to multiple educational reforms. Beginning of September, he cites as an example, high school teachers were too happy to be able to repeat lessons normally, being vaccinated like many of their students, to think of going on strike.

But the situation has changed. “Omicron, more difficult to contain, blew the lid off and serves to reveal the discomfort”, considers Laurent Frajerman. “We will find concentrated this Thursday discontent and an old teacher malaise who could not be expressed in the four or five days of strike usually organized each year”, prolongs Didier Georges.

This demonstration of force attempt is scheduled for one day. But some unions like the SNUipp have given notice until the winter holidays. Objective: to locally allow movements to register over time.

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The numbers of the epidemic at school

Incidence rate by age group on January 8, per 100,000 inhabitants (1) : 2,273 for 3-5 year olds; 3,659 for 6-10 year olds; 3,686 for 11-14 year olds; 5,261 for 15-17 year olds.

Closed classes : Jean Castex reported, Tuesday January 11 before the National Assembly, 10,400 closed classes, or 2% of primary classes.

Positive cases : Jean-Michel Blanquer mentioned the same day 50,000 cumulative positive cases on 12 million students.

Vaccination : As of January 9, 115,000 children aged 5 to 11 had received a first injection, or 2%, said the health ministry. According to VaccinTracker, 82.36% of 12-17 year olds are vaccinated, at least partially.

(1) Source: Covidtracker

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