Self-tests, canteen, distance learning … 6 questions about the start of the school year on April 26th

The main schools will reopen their doors on Monday April 26th after three weeks of closure to contain the progression of the Covid-19. Middle and high school students will return to class on May 3rd. We take stock.

Which health protocol is being implemented?

It will be essentially the same as the one that was in place prior to the introduction of this third restriction, which included the early closure of schools, colleges and high schools and the advancement of the April break. The strongest measure to remember at the beginning of the school year is the systematic and automatic closure of the class in the first case of Covid among the students. A measure that is a consensus among teachers’ unions: “You listened to what we said,” said Guislaine David, General Secretary of the Snuipp-FSU. Even if this decision will inevitably lead to many class closings, as the Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer stated in an interview the day after the government announcements: “There will necessarily be a significant number of closings. But I would rather close 1% of the classes than 100% of the schools, ”said the minister. An argument from Guislaine David who also believes that “it is better to close a class than to close an entire school after 15 days or 3 weeks”.

In the event of a positive case and a class close, the protocol stipulates that all students are sent home for a period of seven days.
And unlike other possible future measures that could be the subject of territorialization, this protocol is national. It therefore applies to all businesses in the country.

What role will the self-tests play, the only real “novelty” of this new school year?

The arrival of self-tests in schools raises many questions that the Ministry of Education has tried to answer. For example, we know that starting May 10th, one week after classroom teaching resumes, students will be given a self-test every week in class. Of course, this can only be done with the consent of the parents and provides a result after 15 minutes. National Education ordered 64 million of these self-tests.

However, some vagueness still surrounds the procedure that should be followed. “We don’t really know how it’s going to happen,” acknowledges Pierre Priouret, Academic Secretary of the Snes-FSU Haute-Garonne: “Who is going to do this?” How will we supervise the students? We’ll wait to see what we’re told. “Jean-Michel Blanquer partially answered these questions by stating that these tests would take place” in special places with volunteers. “Who might be part of the teaching staff? This seems to be emerging. Last week, a ministerial source quoted by France Inter stated that the teachers “would be trained to monitor these tests.” “It’s the only solution, we don’t have enough school nurses to do that and we won’t create 500,000 jobs tomorrow,” this would have assured the Prime Minister.

Teachers and professors also have access to these self-tests for their own use, as confirmed by Jean-Michel Blanquer, “at the rate of two a week that they can do at home”. This applies to primary school teachers from this Monday. “Then, from May 3rd and face-to-face start of the school year, these are also the adults who will start to worry. “”

Currently, these self-tests are not intended for children under 15 years of age (college and elementary school), as recommended by the Haute Autorité de Santé, which has to assess the lowering of this age limit to people over 12 years this week. In the UK it has already been lowered to this age group to allow college students to test themselves.

What about saliva tests?

Their use remains and should even be stepped up, with the promise of 400,000 saliva tests in elementary schools starting this week. The target of 600,000 weekly tests by mid-May has been announced, the executive assured, while “we ran 250,000 weekly tests at the end of March,” said Jean Castex. However, this larger effort should initially focus on the 15 departments where the spread of the virus remains most intense (Bouches-du-Rhône, Nord, Aisne, Oise, Yvelines, Seine-et-Marne, Seine-Saint-Denis), Hauts-de-Seine, Val-d’Oise, Val-de-Marne, Essonne, Paris, Sarthe, Loire and Rhône). These saliva tests are intended for primary and secondary school students, always with parental consent.
“We may have a million weekly tests by June,” said Jean-Michel Blanquer.

Which protocol in the canteens?

The new health protocol, which comes into effect on Monday, does not provide for any change to the canteens, where students must be at least three feet apart, preferably with a staggered arrangement, as in class for meals. “The two meters distance between two groups is also required, and ventilation needs to be increased. “”
Just “novelty”, the Minister for National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, decided to “recommend that parents do not send their child to the canteen if they can”. “But we won’t go any further. The canteen remains necessary on a social level, ”added the minister.

Half the way in high school how will it work?

Here, too, there is no real change to report compared to the previous hygiene protocol, whereby a company with half a trace is left to the interpretation of the companies. Some unions regret, for example, that they do not propose it from middle school (even if it is imposed in institutions in the 15 departments where the incidence rate is highest for 4th and 3rd grades).

“Depending on the facility, some choose to switch distance and face-to-face service every two weeks, and we see a real failure in those cases where others switch every other day or some don’t. Not at all … It arises a real educational imbalance, ”regrets Pierre Priouret.

What is planned for the final exams?

At the moment, this is the status quo as the government has announced that year-end exams, be it for the college diploma, philosophy test or the Grand Oral des Abitur, will be retained. “We will keep the philosophy test and the Grand Oral as it is good for the students to always have part of the continuous control and part of the terminal control,” said Jean-Michel Blanquer, who was convinced that these experiments were being carried out. “We are perfectly capable of organizing them under strict hygienic conditions. It is actually a less difficult challenge than opening the facilities now, ”he said to our colleagues from Le Parisien.

An argument that has resonated with the unions, particularly with regard to the examination of philosophy and the patent. Less in terms of the Grand Oral, which students and teachers have canceled in the past few days.

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