“We have set up a protocol that aims to screen up to a million children and teachers per month, which is huge. Taking screening down to the age of 6, wherever it makes sense “, explained the minister during a trip to Metz.

“What we know to date is that the virus actually seems more contagious in children. This is what we see in England. Without having more serious cases, at least proportionately” , he said, however.

He explained that the government is monitoring this variant “closely”, and that “if the situation were to evolve and we had an increase in the share of the English variant (…) we might wonder” about a possible closure schools. “But at this stage, the French Pediatric Society was very clear on this subject yesterday (January 13) morning by calling for schools to be kept open,” said the minister.

To read also: Back to school: “There will be contaminations at school” but “we will manage them”

Monitor the English variant

Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, President of the Scientific Council, had defended on January 13 on franceinfo this “surveillance type screening targeted at schools and teachers” to “realize the percentage represented by the English mutant”.

“It is believed that the English data on the penetration of the English mutant in schools is not clear enough to push us to close schools in France”, he explained, stressing that this mutant “is not more severe in children “.

Read also: Covid: is the British variant more dangerous for children?

Schools remain open

Schools must remain open with “a number of surveillance measures much stricter than up to now”: “we must be able to detect cases very quickly and identify very quickly whether it is an English mutant or not “, in order to” take a very quick decision to close a class or even a college if necessary “.

Prime Minister Jean Castex explained on January 7 that it would be necessary “really for the health situation to be extremely serious to close schools” because the consequences are “absolutely dramatic”.