Just weeks after the government ended the national requirement for pupils and teachers to wear masks in schools, many establishments are reintroducing them, because cases of Covid-19 are rising in France once more.
The number of cases on Thursday, March 24th, 10 days after the mask mandate was lifted, reached 148,635, compared to 145,560 a day earlier, and 101,747 seven days previously, according to Santé publique France.
On March 14th, France scrapped the face mask rule for most indoor public spaces, with the exception of public transport, hospitals and health centres.
However, it continues to be a Ministry of Health recommendation, in particular for those who have tested positive, contact cases, anyone at risk of developing the serious form of the illness, and health professionals.
Meanwhile, hygiene gestures remain in place as cases rise – probably due to the sub-variant BA.2 which has become the majority in France.
The increase in cases has prompted some schools to demand that pupils and teachers wear masks. In many instances the instruction is limited to specific classes where a pupil or teacher has tested positive.
School principals in Paris have sent emails to parents, recommending that masks are reintroduced for children who are contact cases for seven days. “We will not police the return of students to class but are counting on your civic sense,” according to an email seen by Le Parisien.
The latest figures show 52,669 students were infected with Covid-19 as of March 18.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told the newspaper that the imposition of mask rules could only be enforced by prefectoral decision in the event of a local cluster of cases – which means that schools are relying on the goodwill of parents, staff and students.
But some schools have nevertheless decided to reinstate the measure across the board. According to Le Télégramme, the students of three colleges and high schools in Brest have since March 17th, been obliged to wear their masks in classes and in the yard.