Facemasks and sanitizer as French kids go back to school

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Twelve million French children headed back to school on Thursday, wearing facemasks, using sanitizer at the entrance and standing distanced from each other in the yard under strict government rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

“This is very different from usual ‘back-to-school’ days,” said Matthieu Seguin, deputy director of the Rodin high school in central Paris, also pointing out air purifiers in classrooms and spare masks for any pupils that had forgotten theirs.

With inoculations now also available for children from age 12, and pupils encouraged to get their shots, Seguin said his school might become a vaccination center.

Eleven-year-old Louise admitted being a bit nervous for her first day at a big school but said she couldn’t wait to get her shot. “I really want to get vaccinated,” she said.

For others, the focus was different: “I’m really happy because I will discover high school and be back with my buddies,” 11-year-old Eli said.

The daily average COVID-19 contagion rate has slowed in France, and the government aims to administer a third vaccine shot to some 18 million people by early 2022, a health ministry official said on Tuesday.

Photo: Childrens arrive for the first day of school after the summer holidays at the primary school in Bordeaux, France, 02 September 2021. More than 12.26 million students from kindergarten to high school are back in class, where they will find about 869,300 teachers against 866,500 teachers in September 2020. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

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