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Paris-area mayors call on Macron to delay reopening of schools beyond May 11

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Issued on: 04/05/2020 – 12:45Modified: 04/05/2020 – 12:45

French mayors representing the Ile-de-France region, which includes the city of Paris, have called on President Emmanuel Macron to delay the reopening of schools until after May 11, denouncing the plan as a “forced march” out of the country's coronavirus lockdown.

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In an open letter to President Macron published on the La Tribune website over the weekend, the group of greater Paris area mayors, including the French capital's Anne Hidalgo, asked that the reopening of nurseries and schools be delayed until after May 11 arguing the deadline is “untenable and unrealistic”.

The 329 signatories to the letter say that they want more consultation and more time “to allow for the strict application of an equally stringent health protocol” by May 11, when France begins phasing out a nationwide lockdown.

The mayors likened the calendar preparing the lockdown's end to a "forced march" carried through "even as we do not yet have all the information to ready the population, and the directives keep shifting," the mayors said.

Catastrophe for vulnerable schoolchildren

Pushing back against calls for a delay in school re-openings, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe on Monday said the closure of schools was "a catastrophe” for the countrys most vulnerable children and adolescents.

Addressing the Senate, where he was presenting a bill to extend Frances health emergency to June 24, Philippe insisted that for “tens of thousands of young people,” extending the primary school lockdown until the end of the term “is probably a time bomb".

The prime minister reiterated that the lockdown easing plan entailed "very gradually reopening kindergartens and elementary schools from May 11, everywhere in the territory and on a voluntary basis". Secondary school would start re-opening from May 18 in the countrys “green zones” where infections have been low, said Philippe.

Calls to prioritise

Philippes government has been criticised for failing to consult with the mayors on how to best reintegrate students and teachers back into schools.

"Many people still don't have any information about the teachers who would be available for our schools, the number of extra-curricular activity staff who could be available, or even the number of pupils to be accommodated," saiRead More – Source