Covid-19: in its new opinion, the scientific council recommends increasing screening at school

Limit the risk of an outbreak at school. At the start of the school year, everyone is at stake. But by what strategies? Those deployed by the Ministry of National Education clearly contrast with the latest recommendations from the Scientific Council and the Vaccine Strategy Orientation Council (COSV). This observation is striking on reading their joint opinion dated Monday, September 13, entitled “Back to school challenges”, not yet made public, but of which The world was able to take notice.

At a time, too, when the bar of 50 million French people first vaccinated against Covid-19 was crossed, Friday, September 17 – the presidential bet being raised within a few days – the recommendations of the two bodies resonate as a criticism of sanitary arrangements in place at school. Everyone, however, national education like the two expert councils, shares the same objective: to keep the classes open, as much as possible. However, the means to achieve this diverge significantly.

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The principle which currently prevails in the school is “one case, one class closure”. In elementary school, in fact, as soon as a proven case is detected, the whole class is closed. In secondary education, unvaccinated contact cases are required to be put on hold for seven days. In their joint opinion, the members of the scientific council and the COSV insist on one key word: screening.

“Win-win strategy”

Two situations can be distinguished, we read in the text of the experts. In primary school, this screening should be systematic and weekly. Only children found positive would then be sent home.

In secondary education, the context is different, with partial vaccination coverage for 12-17 year-olds currently approaching, on average, 70% of primary vaccines. Gold, according to a study published in preprint on the journal website Tea Lancet this week, vaccinated 12-15 year olds will get very few infections, and the vaccine’s efficacy does not appear to fade over time.

In middle and high schools, the opinion recommends screening, the day after the appearance of a proven case, all students of the same level (and not just students of the same class, given the large mixing adolescents with each other). But, then, it would be enough to isolate only the positive pupils – without closing the whole class, therefore.

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