In schools, the start of the school year is apprehensive



I am not reassured “, breathes the director of a rural school in the south of Seine-et-Marne. This Monday, April 26, the hundred students in his establishment must find his class, even though the epidemic is only receding in a disparate manner. The manager, who wishes to remain anonymous, confides that he is tired of “Learn all by BFMTV as through broken promises. That of summer 2020, to give transparent masks to kindergarten and first grade teachers , remained across his throat. And in this return, he sees little change in the so-called protocol “Very strict put forward by Jean-Michel Blanquer. Few changes indeed. The rule for a class closure as soon as a case of Covid-19 is identified among the students is the same as before the holidays. On this point, the Ministry of National Education assumes the prospect of seeing many classes close.

On the other hand, the government sets a target of 400,000 saliva tests on resumption, with a target of 600,000 per week by mid-May, targeting the departments with the highest incidence . An effort greater than that of March 2021, but which will only concern a panel of schools, even in the most affected departments. For the SNUipp-FSU, the main first degree union, this volume is “Far from the number necessary for major prevention”.

Seen from the small school of Seine-et-Marne, the big announcements seem distant: ” The tests ? I haven’t heard of it in any school in the area ”, thus testifies the director. Tests which must be organized, in the absence of a school nurse, by the directors themselves, even if it means spilling their schedule over evenings and weekends. Admittedly, the recruitment of “Covid mediators” among the students, to help with the tests, got off to a good start, but “Only a thousand, out of the 1700 planned, have been hired”, worries Saphia Guereschi, general secretary of SNICS-FSU, the majority union of national education nurses. In addition, for screening to be effective, it is necessary to obtain the agreement of a clear majority of parents – 30% of refusals had been recorded before the closure. “Families are better informed and will be more inclined to participate”, nevertheless reassured Delphine Labails, co-chair of the education committee of the Association of Mayors of France (AMF), during a conference held on April 23.

Another issue: ventilation. It is recommended to ventilate the classrooms every hour, while epidemiologists and unions are calling for the installation of CO sensors2 (to know when to open the windows) and air purifiers. The Ministry “Encourage” now local authorities to buy this equipment, the cost of which is not negligible for the smallest, notes the AMF, even with the first models for less than 100 €. The canteens, finally, remain “The weak link of the school”, recognized Jean-Michel Blanquer. He has “Recommended to parents not to send their child there when they can”.

On the teachers’ side, the major concern concerns the replacement of those absent on time, even if the ministry mentioned the recruitment in progress. “5,000 replacements”. An essential stake to avoid the mixing of classes. “In March, with two mistresses absent for four classes and no replacement, we were completely stuck and forced to mix students of different ages”, testifies again the director of Seine-et-Marne, with however the help of the town hall, “Who made available an animator to look after the children”.

Children tired of respecting barrier gestures: “They were fully at the beginning, but relax, on the washing of hands, the mask … we will have to continue to be behind them without stopping”, dreads the director. He said to himself, like his colleagues, “Worried about his health” in front of “Little ones without masks who sneeze on us”. Of the six team members, “Only one Atsem was able to be vaccinated, whereas everyone would like to be protected”. For now, only teachers over 55 are eligible. The AMF claims “Early vaccination of all staff working with children, regardless of age”.

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