France: back to school for small classes after three weeks of closure to fight against the pandemic

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Paris | Children from the smallest classes are back to school on Monday in France, for a back-to-school period that promises to be complex, between the ramp-up of tests for the COVID-19 virus desired by the government and the maintenance of ” a strict health protocol that risks causing multiple class closures.

After three weeks of closure of all schools to fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, the government has decided to maintain its schedule: return to school this Monday for schoolchildren, while middle school and high school students continue to distance themselves until May 3, date on which they will be able to return to their establishments.

Objective: to hold ten weeks until the end of the school year, without this reopening worsening the dynamics of the epidemic, which remains at a high level. For about ten days, the number of patients in intensive care has been close to 6000. A figure below the peak of the first wave in April 2020 (around 7000) but higher than that of the second wave in the fall (4900 ).

“It is essential to bring the children back to school”, hammered on LCI television on Sunday the Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, believing that the institution “is not responsible in itself of the epidemic ”and that schools are places“ where we respect barrier gestures ”than elsewhere.

He must go Monday morning with President Emmanuel Macron to a school in Melun, for this return marked by a strict health protocol, a source of uncertainty for parents, which provides for the closure of a class from the first confirmed case of COVID. among his students.

Despite criticism from part of the medical profession and the fears of certain teachers, the executive consistently defends its objective of keeping schools open to avoid an “educational air hole”.

According to Unesco, France was the European country which closed its schools the least between March 2020 and March 2021 with 10 weeks of closure in total, against 28 in Germany and 47 in the United States.

Above all, the stake of this recovery is to massify the testing capacities for children and teachers.

In nursery and primary schools, 400,000 saliva tests should be deployed from the start of the school year, with a target of 600,000 per week by mid-May.

But the novelty lies mainly in the arrival of self-tests: the government has ordered 64 million for students over 15 years, teachers and other staff of the National Education.