Unlike many European countries, France has chosen to keep its schools open. But faced with concerns related to variants of Covid-19, the authorities want to place schools under reinforced health surveillance. Olivier Véran, the Minister of Health, thus promised to be able to test a million students and teachers per month.
Keeping schools open while keeping the epidemic under control: this is the goal declared by the government and the Minister of Health. Olivier Véran announced, Thursday, January 14, a protocol to test up to one million children and teachers per month to screen for Covid-19 and deal with the spread of the British variant in France.
“We have set up a protocol that aims to screen up to a million children and teachers per month, which is huge. Taking screening down to the age of 6, wherever it makes sense “, underlined the minister during a trip to Metz.
“What we know to date is that the virus actually seems more contagious in children. This is what we see in England. Without having more serious cases, at least proportionally” , he said, however.
He explained that the government is monitoring this variant “closely”, and that “if the situation were to evolve and we had an increase in the share of the English variant (…) we might wonder” about a possible closure schools. “But at this point, the French Pediatric Society was very clear about this yesterday [mercredi] morning by calling for schools to be kept open, ”the minister stressed.
“Much stricter surveillance”
Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, President of the Scientific Council, had defended Wednesday on FranceInfo this “surveillance type screening targeted at schools and teachers” to “realize the percentage that represents the English mutant”.
“It is believed that the English data on the penetration of the English mutant in schools is not sufficiently clear to push us to close schools in France”, he explained, stressing that this mutant “is not more severe in children “.
Schools must remain open with “a number of much stricter surveillance measures than up to now” “We must be able to detect cases very quickly and identify very quickly whether it is an English mutant or not” , in order to “take a very quick decision to close a class, or even a college, if necessary,” he explained.
Prime Minister Jean Castex explained on January 7 that it would be necessary “really for the health situation to be extremely serious to close schools” because the consequences are “absolutely dramatic”.