Despite new countrywide restrictions in France – including a curfew — schools will remain open and plans are in place to test one million schoolchildren and teachers per month, French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer announced on Thursday.
It is essential that schools remain open because there are psychological, health and educational consequences,” Blanquer said.
He said health measures will be reinforced during mealtimes and sports activities in closed spaces would be cancelled.
Although schools have remained open for most of the pandemic, universities have mainly switched to online learning.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday announced a gradual resumption of in-person teaching at universities, saying he appreciated that the situation was “extremely difficult” for university students and their mental health.
University students “feel that the health crisis stole their best moments,” French Higher Education Minister Frédérique Vidal said, echoing concerns voiced in French media this past week.
All first-year students will be allowed to go to seminars in smaller groups starting January 25, and the measure could later be extended to students in other years depending on the epidemic, Vidal said.
The government also announced measures to provide economic and psychological support to students.
These announcements come as the French government tightened restrictions nationally, with the extension of a 6pm-6am curfew to the whole country.