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EDUCATION

Covid-19 classroom closures falling across France

Nearly a month into France's new school year and the number of classes closed due to Covid-19 cases is falling rapidly.

Covid-19 classroom closures falling across France
Photo by Josep Lago / AFP

Fewer than 2,400 classes are currently closed in France due to Covid safety measures, down from nearly 3,300 last week as cases of the deadly virus fall across the country, the Education Ministry has announced.

The latest figure for classroom closures because of Covid cases, 2,366 classes across the country, represents just 0.45 percent of the total number of classes in France.

Classes in primary schools are closed if a single pupil or teacher tests positive, but in collège or lycée only unvaccinated students need to self-isolate while others can continue to come to class provided they test negative for the virus.

All French schools returned to full in-person teaching in September, with pupils and teachers wearing masks and strict rules on hygiene and ventilation in the classroom.

Nearly a month into the 2021/22 school year, 18 primary schools and one collège (secondary school) are shut for health reasons, or 0.032 percent of schools.

Meanwhile, a total 4,154 of the 10,700 collèges and lycées in France have provided pop-up vaccination centres for students.

At the start of the school year, the Education Ministry set its health protocol standards at level two of four, or ‘yellow’. That allowed all children to attend in-person classes as long as they wore a mask indoors – with the exception of the youngest maternelle pupils.

Current plans allow for mask mandates to be dropped in primary schools in départements where the incidence rate of Covid-19 is stable and below 50 cases per 100,000 from October 4th.

ALSO READ How schools in France operate under four-tier Covid protocol

There is the possibility for local changes, so that areas with higher case numbers can impose tighter rules.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

READ ALSO Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier

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