French mayors are asking the President to delay opening schools on 11th May until September, saying there are still too many problems in the way.
The mayors in the region of Ile-de-France, which include Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris, say they need more time to ensure the sanitary protocols can be followed properly. As a result, they want to delay opening the schools until September, arguing this would give them enough time to prepare.
The association of mayors of Ile-de-France “solemnly” asked Emmanuel Macron on Sunday to push back the date, echoing demands already made by various primary education unions that denounced the government’s lack of preparation.
The open letter posted online by the association of mayors reads: “Mr President, in Ile-de-France, the state cannot disengage from its responsibility in the reopening of schools on 11th May; and this timetable is, in most of our communes, untenable and unrealistic.
The letter, signed by 316 mayors, also says: “The preparation for the end of isolation is done with a forced march timetable, while we do not yet have all the information to prepare people, and the directives keep moving.”
Pointedly, the letter also blasts the government: “Flexibility and adaptation to local conditions are necessary, and mayors obviously wish to be associated with this concertation (..) But the government’s disengagement from its responsibilities in education and health, in the midst of a crisis and when the state of emergency will be extended, is unimaginable.”
The letter comes as the Ministry of Education published the definitive sanitation protocol on Sunday. There will have to be a distance of at least 1 metre between school desks. This means that there will be four square metres around each pupil. with a 50-square-metre classroom being used for 16 pupils.
Schools will also need to be thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis. This includes cleaning all desks and chairs, and any equipment that has come into contact with different groups of students will have to be cleaned after each use, before the next group.
The SUD education union has blasted these protocols, calling them “untenable requirements far removed from educational concerns.”
The union also said: “The sanitary conditions will not be met and do not allow a resumption in May in good conditions for the pupils and the staff: a return to school in September would allow time to better prepare the classes and the schools […].”
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