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French primary school students return to school despite the high number of COVIDs


© Reuters. French students return to the classroom according to strict hygiene measures


By Yiming Woo

PARIS (Reuters) – France sent primary and kindergarten students back to school on Monday, the first phase reopening after three weeks of COVID-19, even as new daily infections remain in high level.

President Emmanuel Macron said going back to school would help fight social inequality, allowing parents struggling to pay babysitting can go back to work, but unions warns that new infections will lead to “heavily” class closures.

In the chic Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, students put on masks and apply antiseptic gels to their hands as they walk through the front door of Achille Peretti Elementary. A poster reminds young people one meter apart.

“They are young, they need adult help, but most parents have jobs and it is a burden to ask them to do school work,” teacher Elodie Passon said.

Middle and high school students will return to classes next Monday, as the government will also lift domestic travel restrictions that have been in place since early April.

The outdoor terraces of bars and restaurants, as well as some business and cultural venues, may be allowed to reopen from mid-May if the curbs are enough to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the government said.

Some doctors and public health experts have warned that it may be too early to alleviate the restrictions.

On Sunday, the average seven-day incidence fell below 30,000 for the first time in more than a month, from about 38,000 at the start of the cut-off, although the number of COVID-19 patients in critical care remains fluctuated near the third highest out of 5,984.

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