September 2021's school start: health protocol in schools, junior high schools, and high schools

Published by Elodie D. · Published on 28 July 2021 at 17h12
What is the health protocol in schools, junior high schools, and high schools starting from September 2021? This July 28, 2021, the Minister of the National Education addressed the issue, unveiling the "health framework" instated in schooles and classes starting from Thursday September 2, when school starts again. Compulsory facemask indoor, classes closed only in elementary schools and vaccination non compulsory for teachers; keep reading to find out more.

The Minister has provided a new health framework for the new academic year. It follows four health protocols depending on the intensiy of the Covid-19 epidemic in France. Well, this is what the 13-page road map issued this Wednesday July 28 announces, as the "health framework", a lighter version of the very detailed 70-page health protocol.

It says the level 1 (green), level 2 (yellow), level 3 (orange), and level 4 (red) "can be set off on a national or territorial level (department, academy, region) to guarantee reactivity and proporitionate measures". It does not specify what are the components of the decision to move from one level to the other, and tends to be the anxiety-producing variable for parents.

What are the recommendations for school start 2021?

Facemask wearing

In any case, facemask-wearing remains compulsory for junior high schoolers and high schoolers in closed places; but pupils in schools can get rid of their masks when their schools are in level 1. Yet, as soon as they reach level 2, they must wear a facemask.

Outside, facemask-wearing is compulsory for all pupils from primary school to high school, when schools are in level 3 of the health alert. The same rules apply to teaching staff.

Contaminations and contact-cases

The Minister of the National Education bets on vacinating teenagers to keep junior and high school classes open. When one pupil tests positive to Covid-19, they have to stay home, but the class continues to welcome vaccinated pupils. Contact pupils will have to learn from home for 7 days.

But, kindergarten and primary school classes will close for one week when one of the pupils is diagnosed positive to coronavirus.

1-meter distance between each student

At school, social distancing is not mandatory in closed spaces "when distancing is not physically possible". Are then concerned classrooms, workshops, libraries, canteens, and boarding schools. Protocol only says that "places [will be] organized in a way to maintain the biggest distance possible between pupils."

Starting from level 2 (the yellow level), social distancing must be complied with between students from different groups (classes, class groups, or levels).

Access to playgrounds and common spaces

The protocol specifies recesses are "held in groups starting from the yellow level" and can be replaced with "breaks in classes" because of the difficult organization for establishments.

Washing hands regularly

The protocol says that people must wash their hands at least "when arriving at school, before each meal, after going to the bathroom, before going back home". The minister reminds that they must wash their hands thoroughly for 30 seconds and dry them with disposable paper towel.

And what if there are not enought water points? "If there are not enough water points, using hand sanitizer is possible, included for the youngest if thoroughly supervised by an adult" the protocol explains too, like last year.

Airing and cleaning classrooms

The minister's protocol says that classes must be aired frequently, at least 10 minutes every 3 hours. Classes must be aired before pupils arrive, during breaks, at lunch break, and in the evening, after they have been cleaned up.

The minister recommends to fit schools with flexible CO2 sensors to determine the required airing frequency for each room or to control the proper use of mechanical ventilation in buildings when the opening of openings is not recommended or even impossible.

As for cleaning surfaces frequently touched such as door handles, they will have to be cleaned up at least once a day. So will be floors and large surfaces. Objects must be isolated for 24 hours before being used again (balls, toys, books, games, newspapers, reusable leaflets, pencils...)

The good news? Parents and teachers can get organized more serenly, with a health protocol issued very early - July 28, 2021 instead of August 26 last year.

Practical information