French schools returned from their summer holidays on Tuesday with a strict health protocol in place including masks in the classrooms for over-11s.
Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer. Photo: AFP
But some schools have been forced to close again almost immediately after cases of Covid-19.
Of the schools that have closed, 10 are in the overseas French territory of Réunion – which has been badly hit by the virus – and 12 were in mainland France.
The health protocol states that if possible schools should stay open, but individual classes can be closed if there is a case and around 100 classes have been suspended over the course of the week.
In total there are 60,000 schools in France, so education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer stressed to Europe 1 that this was only affecting a small proportion of schools.
He added: “What is interesting to note is that the suspicions of Covid-19 that may exist are linked to factors external to the school, to people who often may have been infected before the start of the school year.”
The decision on whether to close a school or just suspend a certain class is taken at a local level by the school and local authorities and depends on a range of factors including the number of cases, the level of contact and the layout of the school buildings.
However Blanquer added that having three or more cases would usually trigger the closing of the school.