Parental leave and closures: What happens if there is a Covid-19 outbreak in French schools?

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Parental leave and closures: What happens if there is a Covid-19 outbreak in French schools?
French pupils in the classroom on the first day of school. Photo: AFP

French schools have now returned in full after the long summer break, but despite a slew of health measures in place there is still the possibility of Covid-19 outbreaks. So what happens if cases are detected in schools?


French schools returned on September 1st with all pupils expected to attend.

A slew of health rules were put in place, including masks in the classroom for all pupils over the age of 11.

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But in spite of all the precautions, cases of Covid-19 in schools are likely to happen.

So what happens if a pupil or staff member tests positive?


Parents have been asked to give an undertaking that they will not send their child to school if they have a cough or a fever.

If a child develops these symptoms while at school they will be isolated from the class until their parents or carer can arrive to take them home. Children over the age of six will have to wear a mask while they are waiting to be picked up (normally only children aged over 11 wear masks to school).


Children with symptoms must remain at home until they have had the results of a Covid-19 test and any child who tests positive will have to observe the 14-day quarantine at home.

Cleaning and tracing

If any child or staff member tests positive, the school must thoroughly disinfect any areas they have been in and create a list of all the people that person has been in contact with. The list is then sent to health authorities, who will contact everyone on the list and invite them for testing.




The school and the local health authority together will then take a decision on what needs to be closed - whether this is just one class or the entire school.

The Education Ministry says it wants schools to remain open as far as possible, but each decision is taken on a case-by-case basis by local authorities and depends on the spread of the virus, the level of contact, the layout of the school buildings and many other factors.

Parental leave

Probably the key question for any parents whose children are sent home from school - are you entitled to time off work to look after them? 

Government spokesman Gabiel Attal told France Info on Tuesday that: "Parental leave will be possible in case the class or school is closed."

However there is no formal framework in place for this at present and he went on to say: "We will propose, I imagine, at the local level, solutions. We will not leave the parents without solutions. We give guarantees to the parents.

"There will be solutions that will be proposed".


If a class or school is closed, teachers will be expected to put in place distance learning solutions in the same way that they did during the lockdown, so parents trying to work at home while also looking after their children can take small comfort from knowing that the kids will at least have some schoolwork to be getting on with.


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