I skipped along until a phone call from my children, at school, jarred me. They begged me to come get them early as they claimed to be just freezing at school. Not only were they among the few in school, as the collège (middle school) draws from a broad geographical area, including kids who live in the no doubt snowier campagne (countryside), the kids who were at school were cold as their customary breaks between classes were taking place outside in the schoolyard, with the temperatures hovering near freezing. It seemed strange to me that the school would not have made some accommodations to allow the kids to stay inside on a rare snowy and cold day, especially with fewer of them in school anyway. In many ways, the school rules and protocols are confusing here, on the one hand quite strict, yet loose on the other.
When there are circumstances such as we have this week at school, we have to pay close attention to the boys' daily schedule (which changes each day) and make sure we are signing the correct slips if we want to excuse them. This week, both International Section teachers are chaperoning a class trip to England for the cinquièmes (7th graders, but called 5th graders, in France), so the English and History/Geography classes are not in session. For the boys to leave early yesterday, yet eat lunch, I had to sign a slip for early dismissal (and I actually signed the wrong one, as the purple one meant they weren't supposed to stay for lunch...Their classmates were outraged that the boys were able to eat lunch yet skip out early too!) Yet for the boys to enter school late tomorrow, apparently I don't have to sign the pink absence slip, nor the green late arrival slip because they aren't arriving late for a class, just later for school because of their cancelled English and History/Geography classes. To add to the confusion, this morning we had the uncertainty presented by the snow (no notice on the school website announced the school opening or closure), AND the P.E. teacher was purportedly going to be on strike so I signed the pink absence slip for the first two hours when P.E. would have taken place. It turned out the boys didn't need to show it. We've experienced several teachers grèves (strikes), but not all teachers seem to strike at the same time or the same days, nor are we informed officially so I'm never quite sure when to excuse my kids early or to send them late or which slips to sign. There are no substitute teachers here, or at least not for temporary absences. If a teacher is out sick or on strike for a class in the middle of the day, the kids just have to spend a school period in study hall or outside waiting for their next class. Sometimes, they even have to eat a less than stellar lunch as they did a few weeks ago, when the cooks and staff at the cantine (cafeteria) were on strike.