La rentrée: will the French state provide masks for my kids?

My two kids, aged 13 and 15, are set to go back to school on September 1 and I have been told they will need to wear masks. Will these be provided or do I have to pay?

Published Last updated

Short answer: no

Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has said that masks for school pupils will not be provided by the government.

“We do the same as with the rest of society, whether it's in the public or private sector: national education staff will have a mask provided by the institution,” he said in an interview on TV station France 2.

For the students, masks will be like any other school item such as a pencil case or notebook, they will have to be provided by the parents or guardians.

Rules on masks at school

Mr Blanquer has stated that wearing masks will be “systematic” for pupils in collège and lycée in enclosed spaces, even when it is possible to maintain social distancing measures. Fabric or disposable masks must be worn by all teachers, staff and pupils from aged 11 years and over.

For outdoor spaces, the rules will be left up to local authorities, the minister said.

Masks will not be mandatory for children under the age of 11 and for adults working in maternelle. Teachers will be encouraged to remind students about barrier gestures such as washing hands or sneezing into their elbows.

Aside from masks, this year’s rentrée should more or less resemble that of previous years. Class sizes will be the same, students will be allowed to mix with children from other classes during lunch or break, and sharing of school materials will be permitted.

However, drop off and pick up time will have to be monitored to limit as much as possible the grouping of parents and pupils.

Mr Blanquer pointed out that this set up was in place for the time being, but if circulation of the virus increased additional measures could be taken, including a return to distance learning and home schooling if necessary.

Will masks be mandatory for university students?

Wearing a mask at universities will be mandatory for everyone when it is not possible to maintain a one metre distance, and at all times in libraries. Otherwise it is recommended for people to wear masks in all enclosed public spaces, even when social distancing measures can be applied.

Read more about education and schools in France:

What is France's back-to-school grant, and how much is it?

With no exams, French pupils break baccalaureate pass record

Brexit: will Erasmus study scheme for Britons continue?