FFP2 masks, exams: what announcements from Jean-Michel Blanquer to respond to the concern and anger of teachers?

After a long meeting with the teachers’ unions following the widely followed strike in National Education, Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer made new announcements in an attempt to respond to the anxiety caused by the pandemic.

This Thursday was considered Black Thursday for parents of young children. Thousands of teachers – nearly 40% for the ministry and 75% for the unions – especially in primary education, had decided to strike to protest against their working conditions since the start of the covid pandemic and to denounce the “indescribable mess” prevailing in the schools. It was at a rather unusual time – 10:30 p.m. – that the Minister of National Education decided to speak on January 13 to respond to the dissatisfaction of the teachers. After a long meeting with the staff unions, Jean-Michel Blanquer took the floor to announce a number of measures in response to criticism of the health protocol put in place in schools. What should be remembered?

Contract workers, and FFP2

First, the minister announced that more than 3,000 additional contractors were going to be recruited, in particular by having recourse to “persons present on the lists of competitions”. In addition to replacements for teachers, they are also “educational assistants” as well as “administrative support staff for school principals that Jean-Michel Blanquer promised to recruit by the thousands to deal with the crisis. Then, the minister responded to a request that some teachers had been making for a long time: equipment in FFP2 masks. If Jean-Michel Blanquer explained that he did not consider them appropriate in the school environment a few days ago, he nevertheless agreed to “broadcast” 5 million FFP2 masks in the school environment, in particular for kindergarten teachers who teach in front of unmasked students.

Until the baccalaureate is postponed?

Finally, it’s the postponement of some exams which is either under consideration or has been decided. First, CP’s mid-year evaluations that were scheduled to start next week will be postponed. “at a time yet to be determined.” Then, the baccalaureate specialty tests, which are to be held in March, could be postponed to June after discussions between the Ministry of National Education and the other authorities. These latest announcements cannot hide the somewhat chaotic end of the five-year term of the Minister of National Education, who has even come to in conflict with his colleagues. At the end of Wednesday’s Council of Ministers, and while the government claimed to unite around its Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer allegedly attacked to the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, reproaching him for his lack of solidarity. He would then have replied “Calm down”.

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