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Teachers in France stage strike over handling of pandemic

Associated Press Reporter

Teachers in France have walked out in a nationwide strike in protest against coronavirus-linked class disruptions and ever-changing isolation rules.

Less than two weeks after the winter term started, teachers said they are already exhausted by the pressures of surging Covid-19 cases.

France is at the epicentre of Europe’s current fight against Covid-19, with new infections topping 360,000 a day in recent days, driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

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

“The month of January is a tough one (for schools),” education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer acknowledged.

His ministry counted 50,000 new Covid-19 cases among students in “recent days” and 10,553 classes shut down due to the virus. The figures are expected to worsen in the coming weeks.

The SNUIPP teachers’ union said discontentment is rising among French teachers.

Since January 6, authorities have already imposed two changes to the rules on testing schoolchildren. The union expects that some 75% of teachers will go out on strike, with half of the schools closed across the country.

“The situation since the start of the January school year has created an indescribable mess and a strong feeling of abandonment and anger among school staff,” the union said.

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