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article imageH1N1: France set to to shut down all schools in a pandemic

By Michael Cosgrove     Aug 12, 2009 in Health
French Education Minister Luc Chatel has said he is ready to shut down all the schools in France in the case of a widespread H1N1 pandemic. He added that school lessons that have already been filmed would be shown on national TV if necessary.
He announced the measures in an exclusive interview given to French daily Le Figaro today. Asked about the criteria that would be used for closing schools, M. Chatel said that no global criteria existed and that “..we will adapt ourselves on a case-by-case basis in consultations with education authorities and school directors after examining the national and local epidemiological situation.”
An H1N1 pandemic is widely predicted in France after summer and when children go back to school.
Concerning the government’s role in a pandemic, he said that the government’s role is to be well prepared for any eventuality and that the risk of widespread H1N1 infection should be neither minimised or exaggerated.
He went on to announce that the government had also prepared contingency plans for a generalised epidemic. “In the event of a total pandemic, and if the circumstances demand it, we are ready to shut down all educational establishments.”
In the event of widespread shut-downs, the Minister said that "We have prepared a pedagogical continuity plan. It contains educational programmes aimed at children who cannot go to school. They have been prepared during the summer by the CNED, the National Centre for Education at a Distance and will be shown on (national TV station) France 5, Radio France and the Internet."
Asked about the general vaccination of children, Luc Chatel insists that “Generalised vaccination is not being considered at this time.”
He confirmed that vaccinations were being prepared but that “We do not envisage, for the moment, the systematic vaccination of any particular population group. But, according to the evolution of the pandemic, the Minister of Health may be called upon to revise that policy.”
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