French teachers go on strike against COVID-19 restrictions

“Chaos is common in schools,” said a leading French presidential candidate

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Mandiner
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Teachers hold banners during a protest in Paris, France, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. French teachers have walked out in a nationwide strike Thursday to express anger at the way the government is handling the virus situation in schools, denouncing confusing rules and calling for more protection. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In France, teachers organized a strike and protests on Thursday against new measures introduced in educational institutions over the coronavirus epidemic, which were also sharply criticized by the opposition.

According to a summary of the Ministry of Education on Thursday night, 38.5 percent of primary school teachers and 75 percent of organizers said they had taken time off work, and half of primary schools had no classes. In high schools, a quarter of educators and 62 percent of organizers went on strike, according to the ministry.

Epidemiological rules cannot be followed

The protest, announced by the main union, SNUipp-FSU, was also supported by a significant number of teachers ’unions, parental work communities and school principals, who argued that ever-changing epidemiological rules had become too complex to follow.

The government announced Monday that if a student’s coronavirus test in a class is positive, it is no longer necessary to close the class, but all students must take three self-tests in four days under parental supervision. The tests are free, but parents must inform the school in writing of the results. In case of positive results, it is the responsibility of the schools to organize additional screenings (PCR or antigen tests) for the students.

According to SNUipp-FSU, the new rules create even more chaos in schools where “in the current circumstances, students cannot learn properly and a hybrid system between attendance and distance learning is impossible to achieve.” The union’s statement also drew attention to the fact that the fact that there are not enough substitute teachers to replace those who have stayed at home due to illness.

Demonstrations in major cities

Left-wing candidates for the April presidential election, Anne Hidalgo, socialist mayor of Paris, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a candidate for radical Rebel France, also took part in the protest march in Paris, but right-wing candidates also sharply criticized the government’s actions.

Valérie Pécresse, president of the center-right Republican Party, says “chaos is common in schools,” Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally, has accused the government of “ruining the lives of the French” with many regulations. France last saw such a large wave of protests in 2003, at the time against pension reform.

In France, the epidemic is currently on the rise due to the Omicron variant, which is responsible for almost three-quarters of new infections. The number of cases per day broke another record with 368,000 cases reported on Tuesday, 361,000 new infections reported on Wednesday, and the average for the past seven days was 287,000.

Health Minister Olivier Véran said on France Info on Wednesday that the actual number of cases per day could be between half and one million. According to the head of the ministry, the fifth wave is now peaking in terms of the number of cases, and a decrease in the number of cases detected per day is expected soon. Véran also announced on Thursday that he was also infected with the coronavirus.

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