Teachers, students march in France for more virus support

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Students chant slogans during a demonstration in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday Jan. 26, 2021. Teachers and university students marched together in protests or went on strike Tuesday around France to demand more government support amid the pandemic. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

PARIS (AP) — Schoolteachers and university students marched together in protests or went on strike Tuesday around France to demand more government support amid the pandemic.

“No virus protocol, no school!” read posters carried by schoolteachers, demanding better virus protections at their schools, which have remained open since September because of the government’s concern over learning gaps.

“Sick of Zoom!” chanted university students, frustrated that they’ve been barred from campuses since October.

The common concern at Tuesday’s protests in Paris, Marseille and other cities around France was economic.

Teachers unions, who are negotiating with the government for improved conditions, want higher salaries and for the government to hire more educators after years of cost cuts.

The education ministry says about 12% of teachers nationwide took part in a national call to strike Tuesday.

Students, meanwhile, are seeking more government financial support and want to call attention to emotional troubles among young people cut off from friends, professors and job opportunities amid the pandemic.

Even as the French government considers imposing a third lockdown, the prime minister allowed first-year students to return to partial classes this week, acknowledging that lockdown-related mental health problems among young people are also a public health concern.

France has among the world’s highest number of virus infections and deaths.

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