France to offer Covid vaccines to international students

International students in France will have the opportunity to be vaccinated ahead of the new academic year in September, the government has announced.

lecture theatre
French universities should return to face-to-face teaching in September. Photo: Damien MEYER / AFP

In an interview with Le Parisien on Friday, Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, said France would organise prérentrées vaccinales (a pre-semester vaccination campaign) for international students.

“We are working on the basis that they will be restricted by the rules of entry into the European Union. But we are also working on a protocol which will allow us to include international students in the campaign,” Vidal said.

The measure is part of wider efforts to ensure a return to on-campus teaching ready for the start of the new school year.

Vidal told the newspaper: “Our objective for September is to return to 100 percent in-person classes.”

“We provided teachers and establishments with self-testing kits during the exam period, and we will continue to do so. We also imagine that the majority of students will be vaccinated.”

However, the minister added that the vaccine would “not be obligatory”. Vidal was seeking to offer reassurance after the National Academy of Medicine on Tuesday recommended making the vaccine compulsory for several high-risk professions, including students and teachers.

The past year has been particularly difficult for students in France, with many receiving almost no face-to-face teaching.

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REVEALED: France’s new holiday dates for the 2022/23 school year

School in France is far from out for summer but the dates have been released for the 2022/23 school year complete with holidays and "bridges". Take a look so you can plan your holidays.

REVEALED: France's new holiday dates for the 2022/23 school year

It’s the time of year children dislike most – as is traditional, rentrée in France is on September 1st this year, a Thursday, a day after teachers return to the classroom to prepare for the new term.

The 2022-23 school year then ends – 36 school weeks later – after classes on Friday, July 7th, 2023, later than in recent years and just a week before the fête nationale on July 14th.

 “My class will be almost empty the last week, families will have gone on vacation, especially if the tourist prices are considered out of vacation, therefore less expensive,” a  teacher in Paris told Le Parisien.

Another was concerned about the weather at that time of year. “The longer we get into the year, the hotter it gets. They already forecast 35C on May 18th, so on July 8th, I can’t imagine the heat in class,” she said.

School holidays in France have long been divided into three zones. Summer, autumn and Christmas holidays are taken at the same time across the whole of the country, but the winter and spring breaks are staggered according to which zone a school is in.

The educational zones in France are here 


The Ministry of Education has published a calendar planner for the 2022/23 school holidays on its website, showing the holiday periods for all three zones in France.

Image: ministère de l’éducation nationale et de la jeunesse et des sports

The calendar is available to download as a pdf, here

Notably, pupils in Zone A schools – those in Besançon, Dijon, Grenoble, Lyon, Clermont-Ferrand, Limoges, Poitiers and Bordeaux – face a longer-than-usual summer term, a two-and-a-half month stretch from April 24th to July 8th. This is a longer term than is usually recommended by education experts – longer even than the 10-and-a-half weeks at the same time last year for two zones, which was described as “a marathon” by both families and teachers.

There will be some breaks in that long run of school weeks, however. May Day and VE Day are both on Mondays next year, Ascension is on Thursday, May 18th, with schools traditionally ‘bridging’ the Friday, and Pentecôte holiday is on Monday, May 28th.

On the flipside, pupils in the same zone also get the shortest term on record in the next school year. They return after the Christmas holiday on January 3rd, and break-up for the winter holidays on February 4th.