Teachers in France have halted their classes to go on strike in frustration with the government's new school policies that aim to protect school personnel and students during the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

Surging COVID-19 Cases Prompted Teachers To Stage Protest

French teachers are protesting against the new testing requirements announced by the government on the eve of their return from the Holidays, which have been modified twice since.

According to Elisabeth Allain Moreno, the national secretary of the teachers union SE-UNSA, the teachers' emotions are already high. 

"We had reached such a level of exasperation, tiredness, and anger that we didn't have any other option but to organize a strike to send a strong message to the government," Moreno said, as reported ABC News.

In a joint statement, the entire educational community of France had expressed its extreme "exhaustion and exasperation" on the situation.

The one-day protest was conducted by a large number of teachers, including around 75% of teachers in primary schools. Unions of school directors, inspectors, and other staff have also joined the strike.

"The responsibility of the minister and the government in this chaotic situation is total because of incessant changes of footing, unworkable protocols, and the lack of appropriate tools to guarantee (schools) can function properly." eleven unions said in a joint statement.

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Schools To Keep Open Amid Rising COVID cases

The teachers' protest resulted in the closing of several schools, but some were partly open while others were in regular operation. 

The unions expected many schools to be closed on Thursday as infections have surged in the European country, reaching more than 360,000 new cases in one day. Reports say pupils and school staff are being sent to labs and pharmacies for testing.

Despite the protests, the French government has been firm on its policy to keep classes open as much as possible, as shutting down schools may lead to more complications. 

Education Minister-Jean Michel Blanquer downplayed the protests. He told television station BFM TV that such strikes "do not solve problems" and "do not strike against a virus."

Earlier the government announced a policy of immediately closing down schools with reported COVID-19 infections, which was reversed, as per Reuters.

On Wednesday, France registered 361,719 new infections and 246 death in a fifth wave of the COVID-19 virus.

Given the rising number of COVID-19 infections in the country, the French Senate approved the government's latest policies to manage the onslaught of the pandemic. This includes requiring the citizens to have a vaccine pass, which some of the residents opposed, as per Al Jazeera.

Following the approval of France's lower house of parliament earlier this month, the Senate supported the imposition of COVID measures and legislation for a COVID vaccine pass; 249 voted in favor while 63 were against. President Emmanuel Marcon and members of the ruling party La Republique En Marche party have intensified the campaign against people who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier, Macron said in an interview with Le Parisien newspaper that he intended to "piss off" unvaccinated people by making their lives so complicated that they will be forced to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Some criticized Marcon for his harsh statements on the unvaccinated people.

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