A schoolboy listens to instructions during a COVID-19 saliva test, at a primary school in Eysines, near Bordeaux, on February 25, 2021.

Parents’ faces have tensed in front of primary schools in recent days. They scan the notice boards again every morning and worry about any message sent by the principal. And the latter trembles at each new email from parents who could announce a case of Covid-19 among his students.

Until Thursday, November 25 and the change in protocol announced by Jean-Michel Blanquer, the rule was simple: a positive student and the whole class went home for seven days. The machine suddenly got carried away with the start of the fifth wave of the epidemic. These closures went from 4,000 to 8,890 between November 18 and 25. Thus, 180,000 families have suffered this increase, estimated the Minister of National Education.

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To remedy this, he announced a new device: tests will be deployed for the whole class if a student is positive, rather than initiating a closure for seven days, and his negative comrades will be able to resume classes immediately. If a lesser circulation of the virus remains to be proven with the implementation of this measure, it will automatically reduce the number of students in quarantine.

The scale and speed of the class closings in mid-November surprised. “We had never known that”, relate parents as teachers. Until spring 2021, it took, in fact, three positive cases in a class to cause a closure.

All territories are affected

In Paris, the closed classes went from 134 to 356 in one week, indicates the Town hall. The school at 12-14, rue d’Alésia, in the 14e district, has thus experienced cascading closings to arrive at twelve out of seventeen classes closed at the start of the week. “We made an Excel table to monitor the situation. We ended up getting lost between the dates of closing, reopening, re-closing… ”, says Laetitia Jayet, representative of the parents of pupils and whose daughter is in CM1 in this establishment.

The wave of closures has affected all territories. In Hérault, Philippe Alberge, school director and departmental representative of SE-UNSA, had never been faced with a class closure since the start of the pandemic, outside of confinement. There have been two, one in CE2 and the other in CM1, in quick succession since November 18 in his establishment. “Parents are worried and we don’t always know how to answer them. What is the threshold for completely closing a school? I do not know “, he despairs.

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