May 11th Reopening of Schools: The Picture Starts To Take Shape
Planning continues led by Isabelle Bonnal, the director of National Education and with consultations with teachers this April 27th. While many things are not crystal clear, or even decided yet, some details are becoming obvious.
May 11th Targeted Opening of Schools
Monaco’s schools will not reopen on May 4th when Monaco’s quarantine is planned to end. A third of Monaco’s students are French and in quarantine themselves until May 10th when their confinement comes to an end. Therefore Monaco’s schools are targeted to reopen on May 11th.
Health a Priority
Masks will be distributed to students and staff, including teachers, and rooms will be disinfected regularly, possibly at noon and before opening.
The classes will then have to be rearranged in order to respect social distancing, since the lessons will take place in half-groups. Thus, one group would have classes in the morning, the other in the afternoon.
Rooms might remain open all day to avoid touching the door handles. Likely, rooms will be equipped with hydroalcoholic gel to allow students and teachers to wash their hands at the start of each lesson.
And a direction of circulation in the corridors might be instituted in order to avoid contact between pupils. Students will likely be able to stay in the classrooms during recess.
Priorities for Opening Classes
Reports are that priority will be given to the acquisition of fundamentals. That would mean students of 11th (Preparatory CP) would be at the front of the queue.
Middle School (College)
Priority will be given to 3rd graders because of the national Brevet diploma, but also to 6th graders who are less self-reliant. The timetables will be redesigned; some classes will take place in classrooms, others at a distance.
Students in grade 1 will be the first to return to class, since they are the only ones who will have to take a bac test, oral French, from June 26 to July 4. The second priority level will be that of «Terminale» in order to finalize the marks of the third trimester which will count for obtaining the bac.
Plans by the French Government
France has decided that its schools should target to reopen on May 11th, a date that is fast approaching. This is a big nut to crack involving 900.000 teachers and 12 million students. Every Mairie is involved in the discussions.
Envisaged for the vast majority, it is however voluntary – so parents who are concerned can choose to continue to have their children stay home and study on-line.
The whole principle is to guard against infections by “social distancing in the school” which means very small classes. The Mayors want only 10 children in a class and the Government says a maximum of 15.
Combining School and On-Line Teaching
In practice the only way this can be achieved is by rotation – splitting the normal class in two for example – and also doing some of the work on-line at home.
The kids are going to be trained to keep a social distance from each other, to wash their hands and use sanitizer regularly – and it appears likely they will be provided with masks to wear. Whether or not there will be testing kits for the virus and how regularly tests would be needed is not yet resolved.
Back to Work for Many Parents
This is a giant undertaking of reorganization in a country with vastly different regions, city and country areas but it is one that the French Government insists is necessary – and particularly for social reasons. The Government’s view is that too many children are disadvantaged at home without proper equipment, supervision or parental support. And, in addition parents themselves need to be able to get back to work, rather than supervise their children’s education.
Gradual Back to school calendar starting May 11 in France
The opening day Monday will be for teachers only so they can get organised. There will be a gradual resumption of classes between May 11 and May 25, starting with the students of large sections, Preparatory Class CP and Middle Class CM2. The week of May 18, it will be the turn of middle school and high school students to return to class. Even then it will be gradual; on May 18, only classes 6 and 3 for middle school would return to class. For high schools, it would be the classes of 1st and final years. For vocational high schools, professional workshops would also resume on May 18.
Then on May 25, all classes will be able to return to school; that includes the rest of the classes (5th, 4th and second).
For small and medium kindergarten sections, the goal is for all classes to be back in June.
The Plan for the Return is still Work in Progress
There are an immense number of practical issues still to be clarified:
What about the canteens and recreation in recess?
In consultation with the mayors, sports, health and cultural activities may be offered, but how?
How will children in nursery classes be managed with their crayons and books that are passed from hand to hand?
The list goes on…