22 May 2022,   01:59
French education minister under fire over Ibiza trip as COVID rages

France’s education minister faced calls to resign Tuesday after regretting the “symbolism” of a holiday escape to Ibiza, where he announced a strict COVID testing protocol for students that sparked a fierce backlash from teachers, writes France24.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron, unveiled the new testing and isolation rules in a video interview with the Parisien newspaper on January 2, just hours before classes were to resume after the holiday break.

The paper did not specify that Blanquer, who has infuriated teachers with successive protocol changes that prompted a major strike last week, was speaking from the Spanish island resort of Ibiza - a photo alongside the article portrayed him in his office.

The new rules forced thousands of classes to close and left students waiting in long lines with their parents outside pharmacies and labs for tests.

The government eased the testing rules after widespread criticism, and in the wake of last week’s strike it promised five million high-grade FFP2 masks for school staff and to hire thousands of teachers and other staff to replace those forced to isolate after contracting COVID or coming into contact with an infected person.