Paris (AFP)

A new health protocol concerning schools from kindergarten to high school was recently published by the Ministry of National Education modifying in particular the rules which impose a class closure in the event of contamination by the British variant of Covid-19.

Until now, the health protocol has stipulated that the positive screening of a single kindergarten student for Covid-19 was enough to cause the closure of his class.

And in primary and secondary schools, if a case of an English variant was confirmed among teachers or students, the affected class had to close.

From now on, it will take three positive cases for the English variant to cause the closure of a class and education personnel are no longer systematically considered as a contact case, in the presence of positive students.

"The behavior to be taken around a confirmed case of the British variant is the same as for the general case", we can read on the website of the ministry.

The closure of the class could "be considered" after "local analysis concerning the circulation of this variant on the territory", but it is no longer systematic.

The ministry, contacted by AFP, explains that "closing more massively would make contact tracing and tests more difficult. Instead of testing an entire establishment, each student should be found at home, where the barrier gestures are very different (not mask at home, etc.) ".

In addition, the ministry emphasizes that "as soon as a student is in contact with a person in his household positive for the Brazilian or South African variant, the class is closed".

For the Snuipp-FSU, the first primary school union, "this new protocol now assimilates the English variant to the general case of Covid, taking up the rule of three confirmed cases to close a class, it is incomprehensible", he storms in a press release, pointing to "softening on the sly".

"With the new rules enacted, the number of class closings will automatically drop, thus confirming the minister's communication on the little contamination in schools, with disregard for the health of staff, students and families", regrets the union .

According to official figures released on Friday by the ministry, 1,599 classes and 103 schools were closed due to cases of Covid-19 - knowing that an area was already on vacation - against 934 classes and 105 schools a week earlier.

The Snes-FSU, the first secondary school union, said in another statement "to demand more protective rules".

A health point between the ministry and the trade unions is to be held on Tuesday.

© 2021 AFP