The mask will become mandatory again from Monday in schools in 39 departments where students were able to remove it, the government announced Wednesday, due to the resurgence of the epidemic. A measure that the unions expected but that could be badly accepted.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced it at the end of the Council of Ministers: the mask will once again be compulsory for schoolchildren “in departments where the incidence rate has unfortunately stabilized above 50 per 100,000 inhabitants.”
“This worries for next Monday 39 departments where the mask is no longer mandatory for children,” he said.
They are Ain, Hautes-Alpes, Ardennes, Aveyron, Cher, Corrèze, Haute-Corse, Côtes-d’Armor, Creuse, Drôme, Eure-et-Loir, Gers, Ille-et-Vilaine, Indre-et-Loire , Isère, Loir-et-Cher, Haute-Loire, Loire-Atlantique, Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, Maine-et-Loire, Morbihan, Moselle, North, Oise, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales , Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Sarthe, Savoie, Seine-et-Marne, Deux-Sèvres, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Var, Vendée and Vienne, according to a press release from the Ministry of National Education published on Wednesday by the evening. .
With this new change, students will now have to wear the mask on Monday in 57 metropolitan departments and four overseas territories (Reunion, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyana).
The government announced in September the end of the use of masks in the departments least affected by the epidemic, where the incidence rate was less than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for five consecutive days. The teachers had to keep using it.
By early October, 47 departments had been able to remove the mask, followed by others in the following weeks. In total, before the All Saints holidays, the use of masks in school had been lifted in 79 departments.
– “Yoyo effect” –
“We have had a compass since the beginning of this crisis,” said Mr. Attal, “is that when we can ease the restriction measures, we do it. Obviously this principle applies in both directions and when the situation is deteriorating, unfortunately a series of measures must be reactivated “.
Primary school teacher unions had expected this decision, but some fear it will cause misunderstandings.
Covid-19: the incidence in France (AFP -)
“It was fear that was expressed when this decision was made,” because “that necessarily required feedback,” said Guislaine David, general secretary of Snuipp-FSU, the first primary union.
“The return of the mask will be complicated because it will generate misunderstanding between students and parents,” he adds, estimating that this “yo-yo effect” and “these trips can generate instability and insecurity in schools.”
“The question now will be to see if it will be a measure easily accepted by families”, adds Stéphane Crochet, Stéphane Crochet, secretary general of SE-Unsa.
– “Viral circulation” –
However, for Catherine Nave-Bekhti, general secretary of the Sgen-CFDT, that “seems quite right if we want to avoid numerous contaminations that will inevitably lead to the closure of classes or even the closure of schools”.
“Without a doubt it can cause misunderstanding, but it is also our role, that of all educational personnel (…) but also of the government, to explain that we are not out of this pandemic again,” he said.
A coat rack in a primary school in the Landes, October 4, 2021 (AFP / Archives – PHILIPPE LOPEZ)
The number of classes closed due to Covid-19 increased slightly before the All Saints holidays for the first time since mid-September to stand at 1,246, or 0.24% of classes in the country, according to ministry figures.
A case of Covid in an elementary school class leads to a closure. In case of contamination in middle or high school, only students with unvaccinated contact cases should be isolated for one week.
“The resumption of viral circulation was confirmed in metropolitan France” during the week of October 18, according to Public Health France’s weekly update published on Friday.
That week, the threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants was exceeded “in 44 metropolitan departments” and “increasing or stable in all regions.” For example, it reached 73 per 100,000 inhabitants in Pays de la Loire, an increase of 52%.
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