İrem UZUN -TDO- 70 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in schools in a week after one-third of French schoolchildren went back to school in an easing of the coronavirus lockdown. It was the turn of secondary schools but only in “green” areas on the COVID-19 map, where the virus has stopped circulating widely and hospital intensive care units are not under pressure. The Paris area is still red on the map along with a large part of eastern France.

French education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told on French radio RTL that the affected schools are being closed immediately. French media reported that seven schools in northern France were closed.

Blanquer did not specify if the 70 cases of COVID-19 were among students or teachers. Given that the incubation period for the virus is several days, people are "likely” to have been infected before the reopening of the schools, he said.

During the interview, minister told parents it was more of a risk keeping their children at home than sending them to school. Blanquer said the government’s priority was to avoid youngsters who struggle at school or at home becoming collateral damage of the COVID-19 crisis.

22 European countries have started to reopen the schools gradually. In a videoconference meeting of education ministers from around the EU on Monday, it was heard that the reopening has not led to any significant increase in coronavirus infections among children, parents or staff. On the other hand,  Boris Johnson has outlined plans for schools in England to reopen from 1 June, with Downing Street saying on Monday a decision on whether to go ahead will be taken this week.

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