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France recloses schools a week after reopening over COVID-19 spike

Children walk toward their classroom at the Cour de Lorraine elementary school in Mulhouse, eastern France

Children walk toward their classroom at the Cour de Lorraine elementary school in Mulhouse, eastern France

Some schools in France have closed just a week after reopening, after students or staff tested positive for COVID-19, the Education minister said Monday. 

Speaking to French radio RTL, French Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer confirmed that 70 new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported since 40,000 preschools and primary schools, roughly one-third of the country’s preschools and primary schools, opened last week. 

But Blanquer stood by the country’s decision to reopen schools, claiming that the relatively small proportion of schools being shuttered indicates how “strict” the measures and protocols around operating schools are.

“This just illustrates the fact that we are strict … we are being prudent every time and enacting strict health protocols,” Blanquer said. 

The Education minister emphasized the importance of children returning to school, saying education is “not secondary.” 

He did not specify how many of the positive tests were of students, teachers or staff. COVID-19 infections are rare in children, and theories that they may be asymptomatic carriers or super spreaders have largely been debunked. 

France has confirmed that nearly 180,000 cases of COVID-19 and just over 28,000 related deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. 

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