For a safe school in the time of covid19

Mr. President,

We, the parents of students of elementary to high schools, have appealed to the government on three occasions by addressing ourselves to the Prime Minister, Jean Castex; the Minister of Solidarity and Health, Olivier Véran; the Minister of National Education; and Youth and Sports, Jean-Michel Blanquer. We told them of our extreme concern about the health protocol adopted for the Schools. This concern was confirmed and further increased following the release of the version of the protocol for November 2020.

We have denounced insufficient measures to protect our children and their families. In particular, the non-compulsory physical distancing, the ventilation protocol, and the limitation of mixing are insufficient and not under international recommendations, including those of the WHO. The same goes for the limited strategy of identifying suspected cases, at-risk cases, and the non-screening of children at-risk under 11 years of age.

In addition, activities considered to be high risk and not compatible with wearing a mask, such as indoor physical education and swimming, are still authorized. Meals in canteens still represent an excessively problematic point, and no information is available to date on possible solutions to ensure the safety of children and adolescents during these very favorable times for contagion.

This protocol is inadequate concerning the gravity of the situation and inconsistent with the measures taken to curb the epidemic, including engineered containment. The measures of the protocol are not updated based on the most recent scientific knowledge, and neither do they comply with the recommendations of the Scientific Council. The latter, in his note of October 26, underlines that science has evolved and that the situation has radically changed in recent months and to the point that it must lead us to reconsider the opening of schools. Recognizing, however, that the decision is political,

● Compulsory physical distancing, with reduced numbers and recourse to distance education where applicable

● The ventilation of the premises inspired by the German protocol (regular and by purifiers)

● Wearing a mask from the age of 6

● Checking the temperature at the entrance of the school

● The organization of surveillance is based on active infection tests (RTPCR or antigenic tests) or serological tests (teaching staff and students).

Apart from wearing a mask from 6 years old, a necessary but insufficient measure if taken alone, none of these measures has been adopted in the protocol in force.

Distancing is not applied from primary to high schools. The situation in high schools has recently received a lot of publicity and seems to be moving towards the establishment of half-groups, but that of colleges and schools remains nonetheless dangerous and no changes have been communicated.

Regarding air purification, Minister Jean Michel Blanquer went so far as to state during a radio interview (France Inter) that he had scientific studies showing that these purifiers are useless, even counter-productive. We are very surprised and eager to better understand the scientific basis of this assertion, at a time when Germany is investing heavily in this solution, based on a published study

1. Spain also recommends them

2 a French report from ANSES

3 proved the effectiveness and non-harmfulness of purifiers with HEPA filter in 2017 on aerosols and recent studies

4 confirm this for Sars-Cov2.

The strategy for identifying high-risk cases and screening them remains unchanged. This strategy still is based on the opinion of the High Council of Public Health of 17/09, without taking into account the worsening of the epidemic between September and November, with an extraordinary increase in the incidence rate in the population, nor the scientific literature published in this time frame on the contagiousness of children. In addition, the Scientific Council admits that cases of secondary intra-familial transmission have been described for all age groups. Despite all these considerations, for students to be considered a risk case, there must still be three proven cases in a class. Even in this circumstance, elementary school students are not tested, whereas it would be necessary,

At a time when it is accepted that nearly 70% of infected children are asymptomatic and that „a silent transmission of the virus between children has been described” (note from the Scientific Council), a strategy aimed at not closing classes by non-identification of contamination in schools worries us and alerts us to the threat to the health of our children as well as to ours. In addition, this too light school protocol makes us doubt the success of the confinement.

Thus, this confinement, by leaving schools open and allowing work-related mobility, is likely to have „a lesser impact on viral circulation and obtaining an effect equivalent to conventional confinement will be longer”. The possibility thus is given to the circulation of the virus between children and then from children to homes, without identifying it, leads us to fear that containment will be compromised and all the efforts required of our families will be made in vain. This strategy is also not following the “Protect, Test, Isolate” policy, which applies to the rest of the Company, where each risky case is tested.

Minister Jean Michel Blanquer declared that contaminations in schools are lower than the rest of the population and are „under control”, referring to the number of students and teachers whose contamination was identified in the four days following the start of the school year. of the All Saints holidays. These figures from the Ministry of National Education do not reflect the contamination of this first week of recovery, given the contamination times (three to five days on average), the screening times, and the announcements of difficulties identified in the ascent. test results to Public Health France. On the contrary, these figures testify to the effect of the closure during the holidays and prove that the contamination takes place in schools:


preceding the holidays, while a decrease of 43% is noticeable when establishments reopen, the same trend is also visible among staff, -57% at the start of the school year compared to + 61% on October 16 compared to October 9. Thus, the contaminations of this population were greatly reduced during the fifteen days of closure of the establishments.

The contamination of students and staff does indeed take place in schools and the current health framework of the School is not sufficiently secure.

This also forces many families to give up the prerogatives of the School for their children (instruction, education, social ties …) to be able to protect them as well as to protect themselves from the epidemic. Families experience the choice between Health and School as a real heartbreak. However, more and more they decide to drop their children out of school. The unprecedented growth in the number of children in family education attests to this: it has already increased by nearly 40% compared to 2019-2020. This number seems destined to grow further based on the inquiries and poignant testimonies of the inequalities created by this situation that we receive through social media. Families are forced to choose home education when they do not want to,

We believe in the fundamental role of schools for our children and we have already called on the government to strengthen measures to keep schools open.

The current situation, unfortunately, leads us to reconsider our position: we believe that the closure of the School, at all levels of education, is the only possible option in the current state. However, we want this closure to be as brief as possible and real protocol be adopted and implemented for the reopening. The WHO has certainly reiterated the importance of the School and recommended that schools be closed only as a last resort, but it has also indicated very clearly the “milestones” of the opening of schools in safety, distancing, and tests in the first place. These conditions are not met today for our schools, all levels combined.

Faced with this situation, we dare to hope that you will be able to pay particular attention to the health situation of the school environment and its improvement, also looking at what neighboring countries are doing, such as Belgium which has established the closure of schools in the extension of school holidays, to organize a more secure environment, or Italy which has already gone into distancing for high schools and colleges, while distancing already applies in primary.

We thank you for considering our request and for sending us your feedback. Please accept, Mr. Chairman, the expression of our highest consideration.