Covid-19: the new reduction in the protocol at school does not convince

While the strike in national education this Thursday, January 13 promises to be particularly followed, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Monday a reduction in the health protocol at school to calm the anger of teachers and parents (read below). Until now, a contact case student had to do a PCR or antigen test the same day; From now on, a self-test will suffice, which must be repeated on D + 2 and D + 4.

Is this a good thing? While the testimonies of parents in difficulty multiplied to go for their child to be tested, “It’s easier and more efficient to do self-tests and it avoids clogging pharmacies and laboratories”, estimates PascalCrépey, professor at the School of Advanced Studies in Public Health.

→ ANALYSIS. Covid-19: the school on the verge of “cracking” under the weight of the health protocol

In schools, “Since January 3, we have been spending our time doing crisis management”, testifies Olivier Beaufrère, national secretary of the National Union of National Education Management Staff, who regrets the shift “Between the announcement and the publication of the documents to apply it. Today, in my high school, I did not have a certificate to distribute to the students to obtain self-tests ”.

“That does not solve the basic problem, which is that all the responsibility for this crisis rests with the families and that the cup is full”, adds Nageate Belahcen, co-president of the Federation of parents’ councils (FCPE). She advocates “Saliva tests, much easier for the little ones, done in schools”.

Lower reliability of self-tests

Sanitarily, the decision also raises questions. First of all, “The choice to test on D 0 then D + 2 and D + 4 can be discussed with the Omicron variant because, according to the latest studies, it can take up to three days to be positive and the maximum virus load is between D + 3 and D + 6 “,explains Mahmoud Zureik, professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.

What’s more, “The reliability of the self-tests is lower because they are not carried out by health professionals”, continues Mahmoud Zureik, who asks “An explanatory campaign to avoid social and territorial inequalities between families”. Above all, he recalls that “The positive results will not be transmitted to health insurance, which will not be able to warn contact cases”. The number of cases, “thermometer” of the epidemic, will thus inevitably decrease.

“Between the parents who will not do the self-tests, those who will hurt them, those who will not do them three times, and those also who will send their positive child back to school, this strategy is not tenable. , believes Yves Buisson, president of the Covid-19 cell at the Academy of Medicine. With a virus that travels so fast, full testing cannot bring results to match the efforts made. It would be better to strengthen the measures that prevent the spread, whether it be wearing a mask, distancing, washing hands, ventilation… ”


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