Reopened schools close across France following discovery of coronavirus among students and staff
May 26, 2020
Two weeks after schools reopened and the blocking restrictions came into effect in France on May 11, schools are forced to close again after students and teachers have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The school closings only underscore the criminal indifference and recklessness of the reopening policy pursued by the Macron administration with the support of the unions and the political establishment, in accordance with other governments in Europe and America .
There are no official documents provided on the number of French schools that have closed since their reopening on May 11. On May 18, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer admitted that 70 schools had either closed or postponed reopening after a student or staff member turned out to be positive. . As symptoms most often do not appear until several days after a patient has become contagious, countless other staff and students have been exposed to the risk of infection as a result.
After admitting the large number of schools that had closed, Blanquer blithely declared that it was “inevitable” and that “the fact that a school had to close should not be a problem”, since the first cases in the the wake of the reopening should have been contracted before the schools reopened. However, this only clearly shows the danger that schools will become a major spreader of the virus as the impact of the end of the blockages on the spread of the virus begins to be felt.
After elementary schools and kindergartens reopened on May 11, secondary schools opened to students in grades 7 and 8 on May 18, and the two upper levels will return in early June. Since Blanquer’s statements, the government has not provided any other statistics, but reports released this week indicate that many more schools have been forced to close, including three high schools in the first week.
On Sunday, the François-Mitterrand high school in Fenouillet, near Toulouse, announced on its website that it would close its doors until June 2 to allow cleaning of the premises after a staff member was found to be positive. Health authorities are testing their contacts.
In the city center of Tours, the Jean-Philippe Rameau high school closes its doors after a seventh grade student has tested positive. The school announcement said: “After an investigation by the regional health service and medical staff of the school and pending the results of tests from teachers, school management … and students who were with the positive test pupil, the department council and the academic directors of Indre-et-Loire made the decision to close the school. The closure is effective from May 25 to June 1.
Last week in the same town, a primary school was closed after a grade 5 student tested positive after sharing a classroom with four other students and a teacher on May 14 and 15. All school classes have been interrupted while the building is being disinfected.
There is no national government policy requiring the closure of schools when a case is detected; the decision is left to the local authorities. In some cases, they closed schools, but in others, they only asked students in the class of the infected student to stay at home.
Wednesday, May 20, a member of the administrative staff of the Simone-Veil high school in Sablé-sur-Sarthe tested positive for the coronavirus. They had participated in preparations for the reopening of the school on May 18 with other teachers. The school has not been closed, however, the sub-prefect of La Flêche Jean-Michel Delvert declaring that “Sablé is not a cluster, the school will not be closed”. Another staff member who worked in the building with staff and students on May 15, 18 and 19 has since tested positive.
Secondary schools open on May 18 can accommodate up to 15 students with a teacher in one class, making it impossible to maintain adequate social distancing. Teachers also posted messages on Facebook groups to protest the lack of protective gear for themselves and their students.
A high school teacher wrote on Facebook yesterday: “I saw the opening of high school classes: a non-certified fabric mask for half the day, an optional mask for students, up to 15 students per class with the teacher for hours. “
The teacher continued, “I saw the state of health in the stores this weekend. Serious masks for sellers, Plexiglas walls at counters, disinfect everything, wet wipes, antibacterial gel available at entrances, and no more than two or three customers per store, with masks sometimes necessary. The employees nevertheless seem nervous. I just saw the reopening of classes at the college. A fabric mask not certified for half the day, an optional mask for students, up to 15 per class with the teacher for hours, no cleaning wipes but a cloth and a cleaning product, non-disinfectant , use without gloves. It seems on the news that the teachers are worried. The only compensation for the lack of protection in Plexiglas is the wall of the minister’s contempt for their conditions, which has been taken up by all the media. “
The Macron administration has made no attempt to reconcile the fact that classroom students are contracting the virus with government claims, calling for the reopening of schools, that young people are not spreading the disease. Indeed, its policies are not based on a scientific program to fight the virus, but are dictated by the will of the corporate and financial elites to force the population to return to their workplace so that the flow of profits for companies can resume. . Children are sent to classrooms so that their parents can be released to work. The loss of thousands of additional lives is not a major concern for the government.
The government is entirely dependent on the support of national union federations to suppress the massive opposition of teachers to the compulsory reopening of schools. While polls have consistently shown that more than two-thirds of teachers oppose the reopening, unions have refused to go on strike to reject the reopening. Instead, they worked to isolate teachers, insisting only on the individual right of teachers to withdraw from work if they were personally forced to work in unsafe conditions.
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