As Covid rates continue to fall in France, with the beginning of the school year in September showing no effect on case rates, plans are being made to gradually ease health restrictions.
The government announced on September 22nd that primary school children will no longer have to wear masks in areas that have a stable incidence rate of less than 50 cases per 100,000 people.
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Dès lundi, le port du masque ne sera plus obligatoire pour les élèves de primaire dans 47 départements pic.twitter.com/D3u7gETQZO
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) September 30, 2021
On Thursday it published the full list of 47 départements where this will apply from Monday, October 4th.
Masks will remain compulsory for older children in collège and lycée, and primary school teachers and other members of staff in contact with pupils will also continue wearing a mask.
The SNUipp-FSU, France’s largest primary school teachers’ union, said the measure “demonstrates once again the incoherence and short-term thinking in the management of the health crisis in schools”, in a press release published on Thursday.
“Incidence rates in the general population will be taken as the reference when the rate for 6- to 10-year-olds, who do not have the protection of vaccination […] is far superior, and well above the alert level of 50 [cases per 100,000 inhabitants] in these very same ‘green’ départements. In these conditions, removing the only protective measure in schools is worrying.”
The education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has also announced a trial scheme to keep classes open if there is a single Covid case diagnosed.
It comes as the number of classes closed due to Covid cases shows a steady fall, but the idea will be tested in selected areas first before it becomes policy.
The government has also discussed scrapping the health passport in areas where case rates are low, although this has not been confirmed.