In two weeks, the children will be back on their way to school. A return to school in the midst of a health crisis that worries health professionals, as well as teachers.

Thirty doctors, researchers and teachers called on Thursday, two weeks before the start of the school year, for a “firm action“to protect the health of students in the face of the high contagiousness of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

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In the United States, Canada, India, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain… pediatricians and learned societies are calling for greater protection for those under 12. Our turn, today, to sound the alarm bell“, written in a forum in the world this group bringing together in particular epidemiologists Dominique Costagliola and William Dab, infectious disease specialist Gilles Pialoux and Dr Jérôme Marty, president of the union of liberal doctors UFML.

Children’s hospitalization rate on the rise

They point out that “the hospitalization rate of 0-19 year olds is increasing in countries where the Delta variant is predominant“, which is the case in France with a prevalence of over 98%.

In France, during the past year, 1.2% of 0-9 year olds who tested positive were hospitalized and the number of hospitalizations is now double that of last year at the same date, that 10-19 year olds, the quadruple“, they worry.

According to them, “effective contamination prevention measures must be adopted from the start of the school year“, scheduled for September 2 for all students.

A too light protocol

Four levels of health measures (green, yellow, orange and red) to be implemented in schools were defined in the protocol published on July 28.

It would be “unthinkable to consider a resumption of level 2+ of the health protocol (Editor’s note: yellow, which notably provides for face-to-face reception of all students), while the incidence rate among 0-19 year olds is five times higher than for the start of the 2020 school year“.

“Failure” in air purification.

The mask should not be removed in elementary schools, where “the closure of classes to the first identified case should be extended to all levels“, continues the forum.

The signatories also point to the “failure“of the air purification protocol.

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Windows must be opened much more frequently and the recommendation to equip establishments with CO2 detectors cannot be enough: this must be the rule.“, according to these professionals who deplore”that no measures target canteens“.

This summer, Ireland, Quebec equipped all classes with CO2 detectors, while New York, Philadelphia and Frankfurt installed purifiers“, argue the signatories.