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Teachers on strike over France pandemic rules

by SYLVIE CORBET THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | January 14, 2022 at 4:14 a.m.
Students and teachers march during a protest in Marseille, southern France, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. French teachers have walked out in a nationwide strike Thursday to express anger at the way the government is handling the virus situation in schools, denouncing confusing rules and calling for more protection. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)


PARIS -- Teachers voiced anger at the way the French government is handling the pandemic in schools, denounced confusing rules and called for more protection during a nationwide strike Thursday.

Exhausted by the pressures of surging covid-19 cases, many teachers answered the call by 11 unions to protest virus-linked class disruptions and ever-changing isolation rules.

The strike comes on the same day French senators voted on a bill requiring adults to provide proof of vaccination to enter restaurants and bars, cinemas, theaters, museums, sports arenas and inter-regional trains. Unvaccinated kids ages 12-17 can show negative tests.

The measure will go into force later than initially expected, after parliament approves the legislation by next week.

Health Minister Olivier Veran announced Thursday on Twitter that he tested positive for the virus and was self-isolating and will continue working.


The teachers' strike puts the government of President Emmanuel Macron under additional pressure a week after opposition lawmakers delayed implementation of a key measure that mandates proof of vaccination for entry into restaurants, cultural and sport facilities.

Teachers want clarifications on rules and more protections, such as extra masks and tests to help relieve the strain.

The SNUIPP teacher's union is calling for a return to a previous rule that shuts down classes for a week if a child tests positive. Teachers are also demanding higher quality masks, more testing at schools and devices in classes warning when ventilation is required.

Fatna Seghrouchni, a teacher in the Paris region and member of the Federation Sud Education union, said teachers are being asked "to do things without having the means to do them."

Like many other protesters, Seghrouchni's anger was directed at Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer who she said has shown teachers "contempt" by announcing last-minute, virus-related rules in a newspaper interview instead of sending instructions directly to educators.

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Blanquer has acknowledged that January has been "tough" for schools as 50,000 new covid-19 cases have been detected among students in "recent days," and more than 10,000 classes have been canceled. The figures are expected to worsen in coming weeks.

Unions estimated that 62% to 75% of teachers were supporting the protest movement, depending on which school they're posted at. The government reported 27% of teachers were on strike.

  photo  Teachers and students hold a banner reading " National Education- working condition - wages " as they demonstrate in Bayonne, southwestern France, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. French teachers have walked out in a nationwide strike Thursday to express anger at the way the government is handling the virus situation in schools, denouncing confusing rules and calling for more protection. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
 
 
  photo  Teachers and students demonstrate in Bayonne, southwestern France, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. French teachers have walked out in a nationwide strike Thursday to express anger at the way the government is handling the virus situation in schools, denouncing confusing rules and calling for more protection. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
 
 
  photo  Students and teachers march during a protest in Marseille, southern France, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. French teachers have walked out in a nationwide strike Thursday to express anger at the way the government is handling the virus situation in schools, denouncing confusing rules and calling for more protection. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
 
  photo  Students and teachers march during a protest in Marseille, southern France, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. French teachers have walked out in a nationwide strike Thursday to express anger at the way the government is handling the virus situation in schools, denouncing confusing rules and calling for more protection. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
 
  photo  Teachers and students demonstrate in Bayonne, southwestern France, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. French teachers have walked out in a nationwide strike Thursday to express anger at the way the government is handling the virus situation in schools, denouncing confusing rules and calling for more protection. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
 
 
  photo  Teachers and students demonstrate in Bayonne, southwestern France, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. French teachers have walked out in a nationwide strike Thursday to express anger at the way the government is handling the virus situation in schools, denouncing confusing rules and calling for more protection. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
 
 
  photo  A demonstrator holds a poster reading: They destroy our country, during a protest in Marseille, southern France, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. French teachers have walked out in a nationwide strike Thursday to express anger at the way the government is handling the virus situation in schools, denouncing confusing rules and calling for more protection. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
 
  photo  Students and teachers march during a protest in Marseille, southern France, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. French teachers have walked out in a nationwide strike Thursday to express anger at the way the government is handling the virus situation in schools, denouncing confusing rules and calling for more protection. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
 
  photo  Teachers and students hold a banner reading " National Education- working condition - wages " as they demonstrate in Bayonne, southwestern France, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. French teachers have walked out in a nationwide strike Thursday to express anger at the way the government is handling the virus situation in schools, denouncing confusing rules and calling for more protection. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
 
 



 Gallery: Teachers on strike in France




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