At least 62% of high school and middle school teachers are also reported to be striking, according to the union which represents them.
In Paris, 58% of teachers are on strike, and nearly 200 schools are closed Thursday, according to the mayor’s office.
A protest is expected to start at 1:30 p.m. local time in Paris, according to teachers’ unions. However, small groups of teachers were already seen taking to the streets by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris as well as in other cities Thursday morning.
The French Ministry of Education told CNN on Thursday it had no official figures yet regarding the size of the strike.
A French trade unionist speaking on radio station France Info on Thursday morning said the strike was “not against the virus,” but rather “a strike against the lack of consultation.”
Laurent Berger, head of the French Democratic Confederation of Labor, whose union joined the strike Thursday, said the schools learned of the new protocol only one day before the new school year started, adding that the rules were changing “all the time.”
Teachers and personnel are “fed-up,” according to Berger, who accused Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer of “mishandling” the pandemic in schools.
On Monday, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a softening of the testing protocols introduced at the beginning of January for French students.
Students will now only be required to take three Covid-19 tests at home following a positive case in their class before returning to school.