European children back to school amidst virus fears

French pupils go back to school Tuesday as schools across Europe open their doors to greet returning pupils this month, nearly six months after the coronavirus outbreak forced them to close and despite rising infection rates across the continent.

Many teachers and parents are worried the reopening of schools will accelerate the spread of Covid-19, but governments have insisted it should go ahead.

French children return to school on Tuesday, after a two-month long summer break that followed two weeks of obligatory schooling just before the holidays.

Teachers and pupils between 11 and 18 will be required to wear masks both indoors and outdoors. Pupils in Belgium will also return to school on Tuesday, while those in Germany went back last month.

Masks will also be compulsory in Greece, where children are expected to return to school next Monday with a maximum of 25 children per class.

In England and Wales — where children return to school this week after a six-month closure — the government initially said masks in schools would not be necessary, but reversed its policy last Wednesday.

The new guidance advises secondary school students aged 11 to 18 and staff to wear face coverings in corridors and communal areas, in places with local virus restrictions. (AFP)

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