Call for parents in France to keep children off school on Thursday

Two teachers’ unions in France have called for a strike in protest at what they have described as the ‘unmanageable’ health protocol in the country’s schools, a measure backed by a parents group, who called on parents to keep their children at home in a day of protest.

Pupils wearing facemasks raise their hands to respond to a question from a teacher
Photo: Philippe Desmazes / AFP

The SNUipp-FSU union, which represents mainly primary school teachers, and the SE-Unsa which represents staff in collèges and lycées issued the strike call for Thursday, January 13th. 

It is in protest over ‘inconsistent measures’ regarding the health of staff and pupils during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Their call has been backed by the parents’ group Fédération des conseils de parents d’élèves, who called for a ‘day of protest’ on Thursday in which parents keep their children off school.

They are appealing to make Thursday a journée blanche – or void day – in the school calendar.

The SNUipp-FSU blamed Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer for easing health rules in French classes a matter of days after they were introduced, and called for a return to the old situation of a single positive Covid test leading to the closure of classes, and close contact testing among families, as well as a policy of systematic weekly saliva tests.

“The Minister boasts of keeping schools open to dress up his political choice to make schools a daycare centre, to allow parents to go to work, in defiance of the health of staff, children and their families,” the union said.

When pupils went back to school on January 3rd, new rules stated that primary school pupils and vaccinated pupils over 12 needed to take an antigen or PCR test on the day a positive Covid-19 case was recorded in their class, and follow that up with self-administered tests on day two and day four. 

This process was required for each new case. Under the new rules, no additional testing is required if further cases are detected during the three-test cycle.

Unvaccinated children over 12 have to self-isolate for seven days on the detection of a Covid case in their class. 

But unions have criticised the measures and accused Blanquer of not listening to their concerns: “During the health meeting yesterday (Thursday), the minister remained deaf once again to the demands made by the trade unions to protect schools.”

Member comments

  1. I believe that school teachers are a strong moral voice. This is not about asking for higher pay or longer vacations. They are simply calling for protections for themselves and their students. The current rules are allowing covid to spread unchecked in schools! It is wrong for the government to continually loosen the rules for schools as the pandemic is getting worse, against the advice of their own experts.

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Will France’s Covid-19 health pass be consigned to the past?

France suspended but did not cancel the Covid pass in March - but the government has suggested it might not return, even with the country in the grip of the virus’s seventh wave

Will France's Covid-19 health pass be consigned to the past?

Cases of Covid-19 in France have risen 57.8 percent in the past week with daily cases topping the 200,000 mark on Tueday.

The virus’s seventh wave has the country in its grip – but it seems the government has no plans to reintroduce vaccine pass measures.

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The vaccine pass –  itself a two-month development of the old health pass which had been required for entry to certain venues such as bars, restaurants and cafes – was suspended on March 14th, as cases of Covid-19 in France fell. But the health emergency law that enforced it was still in effect and allowed it to be reactivated at any time.

That law runs out on July 31st. Now, it seems the pass will not return. Reports in the French press last month claimed that the health ministry was discussing the possibility of re-imposing some form of pass sanitaire, a bill intended to replace the current health emergency laws makes no mention of it. 

The new president of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, confirmed this week that the vaccine pass was not included in the new bill, entitled “health monitoring and security”, which will be submitted to the National Assembly for debate from July 11 and will, if passed, come into law on August 1st – the day after the current law expires.

“[It] is not what is planned in the text of the law that will be submitted to parliament this week,” Braun-Pivet said.

Rather, the bill extends epidemic surveillance and contact case identification systems until March 31st, 2023. 

The second provides for the implementation of border control measures – such as requiring visitors to France to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test – if a so-called variant of concern were to spread rapidly abroad, as confirmed by new government spokesman Olivier Véran. 

Currently, most health rules in place at the height of the pandemic have been relaxed. Masks are only required in French hospitals, health centres and places that have vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. They are also recommended in crowded spaces where it is impossible to practice social distancing.

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