Sharp rise in class closures across France as Covid cases rise

An empty school classroom, with chairs stacked on desks and overhead electric lights switched on
Photo: Martin Bureau / AFP
The number of school classes in France closed because of Covid cases is the highest since the start of the new school year in September, Ministry of Education figures show.

A total of 4,048 classes are closed across the country, figures released on November 19th reveal, a sharp rise from the 1,246 closures recorded when the official number of class closures was last published on October 22nd, before the Toussaint school holidays.

The previous record high for the current school year showed 3,299 classes were closed on September 16th, a fortnight after pupils returned after the summer holidays. The number of closures then fell steadily to a low of 1,180 on October 14th, before starting to rise again.

The number of confirmed cases among students has also exploded, with 10,962 positive cases registered this week compared to 3,620 in the seven days to October 21st.

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Over the whole country, Covid cases are running at around 10,000 per day, meaning that roughly one in seven of all cases are among school-age children.

Covid rates among school staff are also rising, with 776 confirmed cases on November 18th, compared to 257 on October 21st.

Facemasks have been compulsory for children in all primary schools across France since November 15th, when the Ministry of Education raised health protocols to level two across the whole of the country. They had previously been reintroduced in 40 départements after the Toussaint holidays.

On Thursday, President Emmanuel Macron said France would not impose a lockdown on the unvaccinated like the one seen in Austria, but he did not rule out expanding the booster dose programme to more of the general population.

A day previously, government spokesman Gabriel Attal had said that France ‘can manage fifth Covid wave without extra restrictions’.


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