French Teachers Strike Over COVID-19 Strategy

Half of the French schools could close on Thursday as about 75% of teachers went on strike against the government’s handling of COVID-19 measures in the education sector.

SNUIPP-FSU, one of the French education unions, said the “historic mobilization” was not a strike against the virus but a “reflection of growing anger in schools.”

Education unions claimed that the government was failing children by a disorganized approach that provided inadequate protection for staff and students against infection and by not ensuring replacement cover for teachers falling ill while leaving schools.

“Students cannot learn properly because attendance varies wildly, and a hybrid of in-house and distance learning is impossible to put in place,” the SUNipp-FSU said.

This week, President Emmanuel Macron restated the government’s view that one of France’s greatest successes during the pandemic was to keep schools open more than any other country in the world.

“I fundamentally believe the choice that we made to keep schools open is the right choice,” Macron said.

However, a surge in COVID-19 infections driven by the Omicron variant disrupted schools since the opening in January, with about 10,000 classes closed due to COVID-19 infections among pupils and staff.

Valérie Pécresse, a key challenger to Macron from the right-wing Les Républicains party, also accused the government of disorder and chaos and said it would have been better to defer the start of January term to allow schools to prepare and to slow transmission rates.

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