There have been 70 new cases of COVID-19 linked to schools in France just one week after they reopened.
The government claims four-year-olds are capable of social distancing, but it is fighting a war of words with teachers, parents and doctors who say it is “too risky” to let children return to schools.
The row over reopening schools has intensified in the past few days, with the World Health Organization (WHO) saying children are at “very low risk” from the disease if they do go back.
A primary school in Derbyshire that had been open to vulnerable children was forced to close after reporting two confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The government has admitted it has no hard evidence that children are less likely to spread coronavirus.
When it started gradually reopening schools last Tuesday, France had just under 27,000 coronavirus deaths and 178,000 total cases. The UK currently has more than 244,000 cases.
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French education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told RTL radio on Monday there had been 70 new cases of COVID-19 linked to schools, although he did not specify if they were among students or teachers.
Seven schools in northern France have been closed, it was reported.
He said given that the incubation period for the virus is several days, people are “likely” to have been infected before the reopening of schools.
France reopened about 40,000 preschools and primary schools last week, with classes capped at 15 students.
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About 30% of children went back to school, Blanquer said. The government has allowed parents to keep children at home.
This week, France is reopening junior high schools in “green” regions less affected by the virus, which do not include Paris – about 150,000 students returned on Monday.