French school students hit the streets seeking safety measures amid COVID-19 spike

Protests by high school students over the week seeking safety measures were met with police repression. French students and youth groups have warned of greater mobilizations this week if the necessary infrastructure is not put in place

November 08, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
French students gather outside a high school.

High school students across France hit the streets last week protesting the lack of safety measures in overcrowded schools. Many teachers also joined the high-school students protesting the insensitivity of the government towards safety in schools. On November 4 and 5, at places like Nantes and Seine Saint-Denis, the police tried to repress the protest with force and some students were also detained. The Young Communist Movement of France (MJCF) has strongly condemned the repression of the protests. reported that several hundred students blockaded the Lycée Les Bourdonnières in Nantes. Protests were also held in Saint-Nazaire, Tours, Caen, Northern Paris, Corsica, Seine-et-Marne, Pont-l’Abbe etc. On Wednesday, police confronted the students at Paul Elouard high school in Seine-Saint-Denis.

On November 5, Friday, youth groups across France issued a joint statement demanding that the government implement strict health protocol in all schools in the wake of the new spike in COVID-19 infections. The joint statement was issued by Young Communist Movement of France (MJCF), Union of Communist Students (UEC), National High School Union (UNL), Independent and Democratic Lycée Federation (FIDL), National Union of Students of France (UNEF), Young Ecologists, Young Generation.s, Young Socialist Movement(MJS) etc.

In the joint statement on Friday, the youth groups have demanded the reduction of school programs for now before considering a catch-up at the start of the school year, the free availability of masks for all high school students and the provision of computer equipment for all students.

“It is also necessary, from now on, to put in place the conditions for a massive recruitment of teaching staff, educational assistants, territorial agents responsible for disinfection and the re-establishment of quality school medicine in order to create the conditions for the second part of the school year to be as normal as possible,” the youth groups added.

The youth groups also said that a massive mobilization of school students would be held if these measures were not put in place by the beginning of the coming week.

As of November 8, France had recorded over 1.74 million COVID-19 cases with over 40,000 deaths. On Friday, Sante Publique France reported that there were 19,825 new hospitalizations over the previous seven days, including 2,948 in intensive care.