Socialist Worker

A dangerous plan to reopen schools in France fails as many stay shut

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2704

A school gate remains closed in France, despite attempts to get them back open

A school gate remains closed in France, despite attempts to get them back open (Pic: Force Ouvriere)


The French government tried to reopen schools on Monday in the teeth of opposition from parents, students, teachers and scientists.

But in many areas the schools remained closed due to decisions by local politicians and teacher resistance.

Last Friday coronavirus deaths in France rose by 243 to 26,230.

The country’s scientific advisory council thinks it is “too early’” for schools to reopen. And one opinion poll showed 76 percent of people agreeing classes should not resume before September.

The parents’ federation, the FCPE, tweeted that “the state cannot provide a return to school” and added that parents who stay at home to look after their children must have their wages guaranteed.

Our children are not lab mice says the Sud Education union

'Our children are not lab mice' says the Sud Education union (Pic: Sud Education)


The attempt to reopen schools was part of a wider back to work push to restart profits.

Prime minister Edouard Philippe said, “The flagships of our industry are under threat.

“Small business, medium-sized businesses and start-ups are on the verge of suffocation. Everything that contributes to France’s influence—tourism, art, gastronomy—is at a standstill.”

But in many areas no schools reopened. Some said they would not go back until the autumn, others in June at the earliest. Local mayors had discretion to keep their schools shut.

Withdraw

Three teachers’ unions also called for school workers to have the right to withdraw from work on health grounds and to strike if this was denied. This meant schools that tried to open couldn’t do so.

Agatha, a teacher from Marseille, told Socialist Worker, “Every trade unionist in the school was ready to strike, but in the end the ­management gave up trying to get us back.

“In another school I know they tried to reopen but only one tenth of the staff turned up and they abandoned it. Most children who were meant to come had not arrived either. It is impossible to carry out social distancing for young children. And if you could impose it then it would be abusive to their natural lives.

“I do not think we should risk the lives of children and parents and teachers for the bosses.”

Back to school government ­guidance in France for nursery school teachers includes, “In sports activities keep children five metres away from each other if walking, and ten metres if running.

“Put away all collectively used toys” and “give one colour of felt tip to each child so that pens are not exchanged”. This is for children from three years old.

The Renault Sandouville factory also stayed closed after a victory in court for the CGT union.

Such examples show the potential to oppose the French ­government and bosses.







 

 

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.