French teachers go on strike over handling of pandemic

Published January 14, 2022 - Updated January 14, 2022 07:25am
A PROTESTER holds a poster reading ‘Political virus’ during a protest on Thursday.—AP
A PROTESTER holds a poster reading ‘Political virus’ during a protest on Thursday.—AP

PARIS: French teachers voiced anger at the way the French government is handling the pandemic in schools, denounced confusing rules and called for more protection during a nationwide strike on Thursday.

Exhausted by the pressures of surging Covid-19 cases, many teachers answered the call by 11 unions to protest virus-linked class disruptions and ever-changing isolation rules.

France is at the epicentre of Europe’s current fight against Covid-19, with new infections topping 360,000 a day this week, driven by the highly contagious omicron variant.

Health Minister Olivier Veran announced on Twitter on Thursday that he tested positive for the virus and was self-isolating in order to continue working.

The teachers’ strike puts the government of President Emmanuel Macron under additional pressure a week after opposition lawmakers delayed implementation of a key measure that mandates proof of vaccination for entry into restaurants, cultural and sport facilities.

Teachers want clarifications on rules and more protections, such as extra masks and tests to help relieve the strain.

Among those at a demonstration in Paris’ city centre was English teacher and SE-UNA union member Lilia Larbi who said that people are fed up with the situation at school.

The strike is not against the virus, it’s against bad communication, changing rules... and the bad handling of the sanitary crisis, she said, adding that the government is denying reality.

Larbi said she taught to only three children in her class on Wednesday because colleagues either tested positive for Covid-19 or were waiting for test results. We feel like were babysitting rather than teaching, she said.

Paris teacher Frdric Le Bihan expressed exasperation” at the confusing orders and counterorders.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2022



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