Professors and school staff have announced a general strike in France against the protocol of the Ministry of Education which regulates the return to class. “An indescribable mess”, is the complaint of SNUIPP union. Under accusation, while today a new record in infections has been broken (more than 350 thousand in 24 hours) there is the established method for return to face-to-face lessons: in case of contact with a positive, the pupils have to take a swab the same day and then two more (after 2 and 4 days) to monitor their state of health. A system that, according to school staff and parents’ representatives, makes it very difficult to manage everyday life at school and which, they say, should be “lightened”. But it is only one of the many requests made by the world of school. According to the union spokesman Guislaine David a Europe1, “The Minister of Education minimizes the problems”. According to the first primary school union, the SNUipp-FSU, about 75% of teachers will participate in the protest and half of the schools will be closed.
Just today Jean-Michel Blanquer, holder of the Department of Education, told Bftmtv that “keeping schools open is the government’s priority objective”. And he also gave some figures regarding the infections: “We have about 10 thousand closed classrooms, then the 2% of primary school classes “. While the currently positive pupils are about 50 thousand. Four days after returning, last Thursday 6 January, the classes were closed 9.202 out of a total of 527,200, while among the students there were 47.453 and 5,631 among adults. However, according to the unions, the numbers provided by the ministry are strongly underestimated. “The amount of situations we have to handle brings us to the limits of our competencies today,” he said Bruno Bobkiewicz, Secretary General of the National Union of Education Leaders (SNPDEN), last Sunday at France Info. According to Bobkiewicz “about 10% of teachers are absent” and “15%” of pupils. However, according to the fact checking of Release, to get an indicative idea of the number of cases, it is possible to refer to infections by age group: in the first week of January, that is to say that of returning to school, almost 400 thousand positive pupils between 3 and 17 years, or the 3.25% of the total number of pupils.
Blanquer today replied to the unions saying that “do not strike against the virus”. A phrase that has increased the discontent. Workers’ representatives protest “the deteriorating working conditions” and “the constant lies of the Minister of Education“. “Not only does the current protocol fail to protect students, staff and their families, but makes school management even more disorganized“, Continued the SNUipp-FSU speaking with the AFP agency. According to the union, “under current conditions, pupils cannot learn properly, as their numbers change constantly and hybrid teaching between face-to-face and distance learning is impossible to implement”. The union also denounced “the failure to replace sick teachers, which is becoming unsustainable”.