French universities to reopen campuses in September, with masks ‘strongly recommended’

Photo: AFP
French universities will reopen for in-classroom teaching in September after nearly six months but students will be encouraged to wear face masks, the ministry of higher education announced on Thursday.

University campuses in France closed on March 16th as part of the new coronavirus restrictions.

Schools gradually reopened their doors from May 11th but the country's 74 universities have remained shuttered, with teaching taking place online.

“The wearing of masks in classrooms is highly recommended,” the ministry said, asking universities and leading higher education institutions “to let in a greater number of students while respecting health regulations.”

“We are working in tandem with these establishments to put in place measures …. to protect teachers, personnel and students from the virus,” Higher Education Minister Frederique Vidal said.

READ ALSO Studying in France: How will Covid-19 measures affect students in September?

 

She said social distancing would be observed with a metre maintained between each student in classrooms. Facemasks will be mandatory in libraries.

Closed spaces will be aired twice a day and pedestrian traffic will be regulated in busy areas, it said.

French universities attract thousands of international students every year, and French authorities say those due to start a course in September can still come, even if they are coming from countries on the travel ban list such as the USA.

Travelling for the purposes of study is one of the permitted categories of travel on the EU's list.

France has worked hard to market itself as a destination for international students, and foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said: “In view of the stakes involved in making universities attractive, international students will be allowed to come to France, regardless of their country of origin, and the arrangements for their reception will be facilitated.

“Their applications for visas and residence permits will be given priority.” 

Anyone traveling from the USA, however, should be aware of the strict travel restrictions in place.


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