Coronavirus: even lighter health protocole in schools

Published by Cécile D., Laurent P. · Published on 21 September 2020 at 09h21 · Updated on 21 September 2020 at 11h21
Over 2,000 classes shut down to curb the spread of coronavirus: to reduce this number and enable children from preschools and elementary schools to get access to education, the health protocol goes softer starting Tuesday September 22.

Invited on RTL this Monday September 21, Jean-Michel Blanquer addressed the education conditions in French schools since children got back to school. The National Education Minister hopes to reduce the number of classes and schools closed around 2,100 classes and 89 schools closed as of today, by implementing an even lighter health protocole.

Following the guidelines of the Haut Conseil de la Santé Publique (HCSP) and suiting the recommandations from the Haut Conseil that "children are unlikely to get a serious form and very little active in the spread of the virus" some rules of the health protocole will be cancelled or made lighter in preschools and elementary schools starting Tuesday September 22, 2020.

What are the guidelines implemented?

Facemask wearing

Children under 11 are not forced to systematically wear a facecover. Yet, "professionals in contact with the population" (teachers, teacher's aides, teaching assistants, school life, and so on) must systematically wear a general public category 1 facemask fitting the recommandations from the AFNOR.

As for facemasks worn by teachers, the HCSP adds that general public masks not meeting the category 1 specifications from the Afnor are not recommended for professionals in contact with children/pupils. As for children not wearing a mask, the contamination risk is higher when adults wear facecovers non-compliant with the Afnor's guidelines.

Yet, the Haut Conseil adds that supervising adults no longer have to be considered as contact-cases if they wear a category 1 general public cover complying with the Afnor's guidelines, or a single use medical facemask when in contact with a child under 11 tested positive for Covid-19 not wearing a mask. This decision comes after teachers discovered their colleagues were wearing general public facecovers supplied by the ministry and were systematically signed off in case a pupil was contaminated.

1-meter distance between each student

A topic often talked about in companies, the 4sqm per person idea, that is to say 1 meter apart on each side. 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."

Before, children were to stay with their classes to avoid mixing. This mixing limit between classes and groups of students is no longer mandatory "as much as posisble". To do so, arrivals and departures will have to be studied "to limit gatherings of pupils and/or parents" as much as possible.

Access to playgrounds and common spaces

The protocol precises the access to playgrounds, benches and outdoor common spaces is once again allowed. Items such as balloons, toys, books and even newspapers can be shared within the same class or the same group.

Washing hands regularly and compulsorily

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. 

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.

Given the risk of spreading the virus if not good airing, school heads will have to make sure AC systems work well and are maintained well.

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. Another detail from the protocol, canteen tables will be cleaned up and disinfected "after each service".

Practical information

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