Some lower grades in schools were opened last week and a further 150,000 junior high students went back to the classroom Monday as further restrictions were loosened by the government. The move initially spelled relief: the end of homeschooling for hundreds of thousands of exhausted French parents, many of whom were also working from home.
Blanquer did not specify if the 70 cases of COVID-19 were among students or teachers.
Given that the incubation period for the virus is several days, people are “likely” to have been infected before the reopening of the schools, he said.
France reopened about 40,000 preschools and primary schools last week, with classes capped at 15 students.
About 30% of children went back to school, Blanquer said. The government has allowed parents to keep children at home.
Although the idea of children being silent “super-spreaders” has been largely debunked in recent analyses, last week France recorded its first death of a child linked to Kawasaki disease, a mysterious inflammatory syndrome that some doctors say could be triggered by COVID-19.
The 9-year-old boy in Marseille was one of 125 children in France currently with the syndrome.
French authorities have reported at least 142,411 people infected with the coronavirus and 28,108 deaths.
In neighboring Germany, schools have been slowly opening to various degrees for about two weeks now, subject to precautions.
No major outbreaks related to the reopenings have been reported, though there have been many individual cases. In Berlin’s Spandau neighborhood, one school was ordered temporarily closed at the weekend after it emerged that a teacher with COVID-19 had contact with two elementary classes, an after-school care program and other teachers.
A teacher from another school in the area also tested positive, but only had contact with a small number of children. Those individuals were ordered into quarantine but the school has remained open, the BZ newspaper reported on Monday. In the surrounding state of Brandenburg two kindergartens were closed and a fifth-grade class at an elementary school were quarantined.
David Rising in Berlin contributed.
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