Mask wearing in primary schools is set to become mandatory again in 39 French departments from November 8, due to a surge in the Covid epidemic in those areas.
Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal confirmed the decision on November 3.
He said: “From next week, when schools go back, in the departments where the level of incidence has unfortunately stabilised above 50 per 100,000 inhabitants, masks will be once again obligatory for children in the schools concerned.”
Mask wearing is automatically required in regions where the level of incidence (number of cases per 100,000 residents) rises above 50 for five consecutive days.
There are four levels of alert for schools, set by the National Education Ministry. They are green (level 1), yellow (level 2), orange (level 3) and red (level 4). The rules will return to yellow on Monday for the departments concerned.
Currently, 21 departments still require mask wearing, but before the Toussaint holidays, 79 departments had lifted the requirement (except in Lozère, where the measure had been imposed again). Now, these 39 extra departments will reimpose the measure.
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Mr Attal added: “Since the start of the crisis, as soon as we can lift measures, we do it. But obviously that goes in two directions, and as soon as the situation gets worse, we have to reactivate a certain number of measures.”
(Map credit: HuffingtonPost with data from Santé publique France)
What other measures does a level 2 protocol require?
As well as mask wearing, physical and sporting activities are required to take place “mainly outdoors” if practical. If not possible, then sport may be done inside, but all contact sports are banned.
Mixing between classes or other relevant groups is not allowed, and pupils must socially distance as much as possible. Surfaces must be disinfected throughout the day, and lunch should be served individually to each pupil, rather than buffet-style.
The departments in which primary schools will pass into level 2 (yellow) are as follows:
Ain, Hautes-Alpes, Ardennes, Aveyron, Cher, Corrèze, Haute-Corse, Côtes d'Armor, Creuse, Drôme, Eure-et-Loir, Gers, Ille-et-Vilaine, Indre-et-Loire, Isère, Loir-et-Cher, Haute-Loire, Loire-Atlantique, Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, Maine-et-Loire, Morbihan, Moselle, Nord, Oise, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Sarthe, Savoie, Seine-et-Marne, Deux-Sèvres, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Var, Vendée and Vienne.
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More French primary schools to end mask rule (but it is back for some)