IN PICTURES: French children return to school with masks

IN PICTURES: French children return to school with masks
All photos: AFP
Pupils across France are now back at school under strict hygiene conditions which for many include wearing masks in the classroom.

France's Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said he wanted to keep the school on September 1st start “as normal as possible,” despite the rapidly rising Covid-19 rates in the country, but for many reasons the start of this school year looks very different.

An updated, stricter version of the public health protocol for schools published in June has been made available on the education ministry's website.

To facilitate the return en masse for all children, the rule limiting class sizes to small groups has been scrapped. Schools are however asked to “organise activities to limit large groupings of people”.

Only children above the age of 11 have to wear a face-mask in France. Masks are banned in nurserieswhere the government has decided  they would be counterproductive.

Teachers will have to wear a mask at all times, except when they do something considered “incompatible” with wearing a mask.

It is up to parents to provide their children with masks, although the government will provide all schools with stocks to give out to pupils lacking one.

Keeping a one metre-distance inside the school is recommended, however the rule is no longer compulsory and teachers are to organise the classrooms so that “as much distance as possible” is kept between the pupils, according to the updated version of the public health protocol for schools.

All children and staff are asked to wash their hands regularly, cough or sneeze into their elbow or in a paper tissue, use single-use tissues and throw them away after usage as well as to say hi and bye without shaking hands or kissing.

Pupils are given free access to playgrounds, balls, toys, books, pens and other school items. All school administrations must establish plans to instruct pupils, parents and teachers on how to best behave to limit the spread of the virus.

Schools must also regularly clean frequent contact-points such as door-knobs. Dining hall tables must be disinfected after each meal and all large surfaces are to be cleaned at least once a day.


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