The coronavirus epidemic continues in France that faces the challenged caused by the spread of more transmissible variants. Cases in schools are in the heart of the news and for good reason, the closure of schools for Covid-19-related grounds has been drastically increasing over the week before the school break. Furthermore, the latest report delivered by Santé Publique France shows a strong increase in tests in young from 0 to 14 years of age.
Yet, for the time being, it is not about closing all schools nor it is about putting the country back into lockdown. Yet, the government has made a decision in order to make tests within schools easier. As soon as pupils are back from the winter break, saliva tests will be deployed in schools. Given the green light by the Haute Autorité de Santé, this testing system is less intrusive than nose swabs the French have been taking so far. During the press conference on February 18, 2021, Olivier Véran also said the process will be extended to other population groups. Health workers will be the next one to be provided with saliva tests as they are very regularly tested.
In concrete words, how will it happen? Starting February 22, schools are expected to be able to perform saliva tests. Tests are not compulsory for pupils: the final decision is let to parents, as explained by the Minister of the National Education. Therefore, parental consent is required so that children can be tested. The government has set a goal of 200,000 weekly tests by two weeks.
This Tuesday March 2, 2021, interviewed by France Inter, Jean-Michel Blanquer has detailed the new tests in schools. The Minister of National Education has announced "1,700 intermediaries who will be medical, pharmacy students or from other fields, but who will not be performing health tasks, will be hired to help healthcare providers perform these tests". On the website, the Minister of National Education counts 50,130 schools in France; therefore, there will be 1 intermediary for 29 schools.
The minister also says these new paid jobs might often suit students, "hired now so that they can work until the end of June".
Blanquer also said that more and more saliva tests are performed: "This week, between 50 and 80,000 tests will be performed for the zone back from Winter Break; last week, under 10,000 tests were performed. By mid-March, there will be 300,000 weekly tests".