Detect more cases of Covid 19 at school and isolate at home only children who are actually positive in middle and high school.
These recommendations from the experts of the Scientific Council, cited in the newspaper Le Monde this Saturday, date back to September 13.
They have not yet been made public in full but they could well be emulated.
Indeed, they contrast with the health protocol put in place since the start of the school year by the Ministry of National Education.
While government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced that a Defense Council would be held on Wednesday with the easing of certain constraints on the agenda, could this expert opinion weigh in the balance? “The whole issue is, how do we keep tools that have proven their worth (…) and that have made it possible to maintain open activities, and, moreover, how we adapt them”, declared this Sunday Gabriel Attal. To see how the health protocol of the Ministry of Education could therefore be adapted.
As a reminder, the latter has predicted since the start of the school year that a single case of Covid in a primary school class would lead to a closure (some 3,000 classes have been in this case since September 2).
In the event of contamination at college or high school, students with unvaccinated contact cases must isolate themselves for a week and follow courses remotely from home.
As for screening, it is carried out by means of saliva tests in primary school and self-tests in middle and high schools "in the event of the appearance of confirmed cases or in the case of particularly active circulation in a geographical area", according to instructions from the Ministry of National Education.
Avoid sorting between vaccinated and non-vaccinated students
However, the experts of the Scientific Council, whose stated goal is - like the government - to keep the classes open as much as possible, make different recommendations. They insist above all on screening, the real backbone of the system. In primary school, this screening should be systematic and weekly. Only children found to be positive would then be sent home.
In middle and high schools, where vaccination coverage for 12-17 year-olds has so far reached an average of 70%, the opinion recommends screening all the pupils of a same level - and not just students of the same class, given the large mixing of adolescents between them. Then, it would be enough to isolate only the positive pupils. A strategy supposed to avoid class closures in primary and "sorting", say experts, between vaccinated and unvaccinated students in secondary school which can sometimes disadvantage students from modest backgrounds. To be carried out successfully, this approach, specifies the opinion, should be based on the voluntary service of the pupils and would therefore of course require the consent of a large part of the families.
One of the arguments in favor of systematic primary screening is the frequency of asymptomatic cases in children under 10 years of age.
However, still according to the opinion of the Scientific Council sent on September 13 to the State authorities, contamination in minors could represent up to 35% of infections and 5% of hospitalizations over the coming weeks.
This opinion is also concerned about the consequences of the Delta variant, which is more contagious and which "raises the fear of a pediatric epidemic at the start of the school year, in a context of non-vaccination in children under 12 and partial vaccination coverage in 12-17 years old. ".
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The government, which has therefore been aware of this opinion of the Scientific Council for several days, does it plan to take it into account and draw inspiration from it? Nothing is less sure. Contacted, the Ministry of National Education assured this Sunday not to consider any "evolution" in its protocol and refuses for the moment to any comment.