French teachers are on massive strike against the corona policy of President Macron and education minister Blanquer. The teachers feel that not enough is being done to protect them in the omi-currency peak and that current policies are causing a major mess in the classrooms.

Striking teachers take to the streets in some 70 cities, including Paris, Lyon, Nice and Rouen. It is estimated that half of French schools are closed. It is not known exactly how many teachers went on strike. The estimates of the unions and data from the ministry vary widely.

Primary education union SNUipp-FSU, which called for the strike, estimates that three quarters of teachers participate. The secondary education union, SNES-FSU, estimates that 62 percent of secondary school teachers are on strike today. According to the Ministry of Education, this is 38.4 percent (PO) and 23.7 percent (VO). The largest association of parents of students also supports the actions.

Success or not?

Macron said this week that France is keeping its schools open the most of all countries, calling it one of France’s greatest successes in the corona pandemic. But the education unions think that the price is much too high. Teachers and students are not well protected and the number of infections has risen, so that about 10,000 classes are now at home.

The unions say there is no good learning in that chaos. They demand that students and teachers be better protected, including by providing better face masks and improving ventilation in the classrooms.

Mess

The immediate cause of the strike was the new health protocol for schools. That was announced in the press just before the Christmas break and has changed twice since then. If a student is found to be infected, classmates must submit three negative self-tests, two days apart.

At a time when pharmacies and labs are overloaded and self-tests are not readily available, educators say this protocol creates an “indescribable mess.” According to SNUipp-FSU, teachers can no longer teach well in this way and with alternating classes and they are more like daycare centers.

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