Jan 13, 2022 - Health

Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols

teachers denounce the absence of sanitary materials in schools,
Teachers denounce the absence of protective materials in schools on Jan. 13 in Paris. Photo: Vincent Koebel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Teachers across France staged a mass walkout Thursday to protest ever-changing COVID-19 rules in the education sector, which they say fail to protect teachers and students.

Why it matters: Protests took place in towns across the country, forcing schools to close, though officials did not specify how many schools had to close Thursday. Some 58% of teachers in Paris participated, leading to nearly 200 school closures, the mayor's office said.

By the numbers: The French education ministry estimated that roughly 38% of primary school teachers participated in the strike, alongside nearly 24% of secondary school teachers.

  • Trade and teachers unions claim that about 75% of primary teachers and 62% of secondary teachers participated in the strike, per the Guardian.

Context: The government outlined a complex system of rules for classroom COVID-19 testing on Jan. 2. It then announced new changes on Monday and Tuesday. Many teachers were frustrated by the constantly changing rules, which they also feel are insufficient, CNN reported.

  • Teachers have also been concerned about a rise in cases among students and lack of protective equipment.

The backdrop: France on Tuesday reported a record of more than 368,000 new infections, per Reuters, as the country continues to set records for infections that have led to classroom closures and viral spread among students.

What they're saying: The walkout is "not a 'strike against the virus' but illustrates the growing frustration in the schools," Snuipp-F.S.U., a leading union of elementary school personnel, said in a statement Tuesday.

  • "Not only does the current protocol fail to protect students, staff and their families, but it also completely disorganizes the school."
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