French teachers strike over COVID policy

Tens of thousands of French teachers walked off the job on Thursday (January 13) over what they say is the government's failure to adopt a coherent COVID policy for schools.

Teachers, parents and school staff say they're struggling to keep up with twists and turns.

New testing requirements brought in for the start of term in January have already changed twice.

Corrine Courvoisier has seven-year-old twins.

"We never see the end of it, every other day we're told there's a possible case in a class, we have to spend all our time testing the children; they can't bear it any more having a test stuck up their nose, I don't know what to do."

Schools gave a mixed picture of the one-day strike - some were closed, some partly open and others working normally.

Unions expected about 75% of primary and 62% of high school teachers to join; but the education ministry gave much lower figures.

Elisabeth Allain-Moreno of the SE-UNSA teacher's union:

"We have reached a level of exasperation, tiredness, and anger. We had no choice but to organize a large mobilization to send a strong message to the government. It is the largest mobilization in a long time."

The government reversed an earlier policy of quickly shutting down classes with positive coronavirus cases.

It has since stood by its policy to keep classes open as much as possible, saying some complication is the price that has to be paid.

Infections have surged in schools as France has set records with close to 370,000 new daily cases.

Positive cases can result in dozens of pupils and staff being sent to labs and pharmacies for testing.

Some directors, inspectors and other staff joined the walk-out.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting