They are allowed to stay at home, cool. Schoolchildren and college students from the 12 departments placed on heat wave red vigilance are not obliged to go to class this Friday, the Ministry of Education announced on Thursday. However, he specifies that “schools and establishments maintain the reception of students”, subject to “possible closure decisions taken by the prefectural authorities”, added rue de Grenelle.
From Thursday morning, while the heat wave has been ravaging part of France since Tuesday, in a class of a school in Montauban, the thermometer showed 35° at 9 a.m., when the students had not yet arrived in class. Faced with these temperatures, heads of establishments in Occitania had anticipated and decided to suspend classes in the afternoon from the evening before.
The extension of this measure to all establishments comes late according to the SE-Unsa union. “Despite the episodes of heat wave already experienced in past years, it will have been necessary to wait until it is in the middle of a period of high heat for recommendations to be sent by the Ministry of National Education to rectors”, he lamented in a statement.
Investing in the face of increasing heat waves
This measure of suspension of classes, in principle, the secondary school teacher union SNES-FSU, is not in favor of it. “Closing classes is a measure of last resort, an unsatisfactory emergency solution. But after a while, when it’s 40° in a class, there are safety issues that arise for students and teachers, ”says Pierre Priouret, general secretary of the union in Toulouse.
The latter asked the teachers to bring up the working conditions in which they have to teach during this heat wave. A way to call out on the means to be taken in an emergency. On Wednesday, the rectorate of the Toulouse academy had sent recommendations to school principals and heads of establishments. With the objective of identifying the most exposed premises and adapting the organization and use of spaces according to exposure, while recalling instructions such as keeping the blinds or shutters closed when the facade is sunny.
While students are currently composing for the baccalaureate, in water examination centers is available to them. “Adaptations take place on a case-by-case basis, such as the Revel high school which is relocating the 1st French test this afternoon to an air-conditioned municipal hall”, indicated the National Education services on Thursday.
For the SNES-FSU, emergency measures have a limit. “We won’t be able to tinker around with two bottles of water all the time. These periods of high heat outside the summer will multiply, we now know. You have to invest so that you can work in good conditions. We are not pleading for air conditioning because it will aggravate global warming, but we must green, better insulate because many buildings are thermal sieves, where we are cold in winter and hot in summer, ”insists Pierre Priouret. He hopes that academic officials will put pressure on the local authorities who manage the buildings so that a heat wave plan sees the light of day.
Debit the courses
“In all our new constructions we work on these issues, with devices such as geothermal energy to cool the buildings. In the older establishments, we have launched a rehabilitation plan which we are gradually putting in place and to which we devote 35 million euros per year. On the other hand, the solution to respond to the emergency must not contribute to the problem, in particular concerning air conditioning, ”notes Vincent Gibert, vice-president of the Haute-Garonne departmental council in charge of colleges, which has activated a cell crisis for immediate needs. Its teams have been working since last year on “oasis courses” in certain establishments in Toulouse, real heat islands. A measure that will go through the debitumization of courtyards and their revegetation.
The latter is in favor of the implementation of the “heat wave plan” proposed several years ago by the FCPE, in particular the proposal “to modulate the courses and give parents leave”. In a press release, the departmental delegation of parents of students requests that “real substantive and anticipation work” be “promoted to adapt the school to climate change: specific measures for the daily lives of students during these high temperatures, modernization of school buildings, revegetation of spaces, establishment of a heat wave holiday”. A heat wave plan which must integrate, according to its representatives, “emergency measures, a prevention policy, and a medium-term investment plan for the health of our children”.