France’s education minister met last night with parent and teaching unions after 77,500 teachers took part in strike action to protest against the Covid rules currently in place in schools.
In response to the widespread mobilisation, Jean-Michel Blanquer has announced a series of new measures aiming to ease the pressure on schools.
Mr Blanquer said that, during a meeting which also included Health Minister Olivier Véran and Prime Minister Jean Castex, he had “understood the ins and outs of this significant strike action and there is obviously great fatigue in relation to all the health-related challenges.”
Déclaration de Jean-Michel Blanquer à l'issue de l'audience avec les organisations syndicales représentants les personnels de l'éducation nationale et les fédérations de parents d'élèves. https://t.co/Opw8kslsrJ— Ministère Éducation nationale, Jeunesse et Sports (@education_gouv) January 13, 2022
He announced that:
Some five million FFP2 masks – which offer greater protection than surgical masks – would be sent to schools, especially nursery settings where staff work with children not wearing a mask
Around 3,300 supply teachers would be recruited to fill the gap left by teachers having to self-isolate with Covid. Teaching assistants and administrative staff will also be recruited
Examination regimes would be relaxed. The tests which children in CP (normally for five to six-year-olds) were due to sit next week have been delayed “as it wouldn’t be good to keep them” on their scheduled date. The new date will be decided with unions
Any Baccalauréat exams which were due to take place in March may also be postponed to June. “Everyday school life is not easy at the moment, and lycée pupils may have been out of school a lot because of the virus,” Mr Blanquer said.
He also reminded unions that regional authorities could apply for state funding for CO2 sensors, which are used to determine the air quality in a room.
“Nothing is perfect and we can always improve things, and that is what we will continue trying to do,” Mr Blanquer added.
The government stated that 38.5% of primary teachers took part in strike action yesterday, but unions maintained that the true figure was 75%.
This makes yesterday’s strike the biggest since 2019. Some 24% of secondary teachers joined their primary colleagues in the strike according to government figures.