The wife of education minister Luc Chatel committed suicide at her home in a Paris suburb on Sunday, police and political sources said.

"/> The wife of education minister Luc Chatel committed suicide at her home in a Paris suburb on Sunday, police and political sources said.

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EDUCATION

Wife of education minister commits suicide

The wife of education minister Luc Chatel committed suicide at her home in a Paris suburb on Sunday, police and political sources said.

Wife of education minister commits suicide
Peter Potrowl

Astrid Herrenschmidt, 45, was found hanged at their home in Boulogne-Billancourt by her mother, police sources said.

“Luc Chatel confirms the personal tragedy that occurred this morning,” said a statement issued by the head of Chatel’s office.

“He asks that the privacy of his family, his children and himself be respected.”

Herrenschmidt, who hailed from a family of industrialists from the Alsace region, married the US-born Chatel in 1991. The couple have four children.

Her body will undergo examination on Monday.

Chatel, 47, has been minister of education since 2009 after serving as secretary of state for industry and a government spokesman.

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EDUCATION

Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules

Around three-quarters of French teachers plan to go on strike onThursday to protest the government's shifting rules on Covid testing for students, forcing the closure of half the country's primary schools, a union said Tuesday.

Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

The strike led by the Snuipp-FSU union, the largest among primary school teachers, comes after the latest of several changes on testing and isolation requirements for potential Covid cases announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex late Monday.

After seeing long lines of parents outside pharmacies and labs in recent days to test children in classes where a case was detected, Castex said home tests could now be used to determine if a student could return to school.

But teachers say class disruptions have become unmanageable with the spread of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant.

“Students cannot learn properly because attendance varies wildly, and a hybrid of in-house and distance learning is impossible to put in place,” the Snuipp-FSU said, adding that absent teachers are not being replaced.

It is also demanding the government provide facemasks for staff, including the more protective FFP2 masks, and CO2 monitors to check if classrooms are sufficiently ventilated.

“Not only does the current protocol not protect students, staff or their families, it has completely disorganised schools,” the union said, claiming that classes have effectively been turned into “daycare centres.”

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has said the government is doing everything possible to avoid outright school closures that could cause havoc for parents and jeopardise learning for thousands, especially those in low-income families.

“I know there is a lot of fatigue, of anxiety… but you don’t go on strike against a virus,” Blanquer told BFM television on Tuesday.

As of Monday some 10,000 classes had been shut nationwide because of Covid cases, representing around two percent of all primary school classes, Blanquer said.

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