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Facemasks and sanitizer as French kids go back to school

french children and teenagers head back to school after summer break
Schoolchildren, wearing protective face masks, gather as they arrive at a primary school on the first day of the new school year after summer break, in Vertou, France, September 2, 2021. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Twelve million French children headed back to school on Thursday, wearing facemasks, using sanitizer at the entrance and standing distanced from each other in the yard under strict government rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

“This is very different from usual ‘back-to-school’ days,” said Matthieu Seguin, deputy director of the Rodin high school in central Paris, also pointing out air purifiers in classrooms and spare masks for any pupils that had forgotten theirs.

With inoculations now also available for children from age 12, and pupils encouraged to get their shots, Seguin said his school might become a vaccination center.

Eleven-year-old Louise admitted being a bit nervous for her first day at a big school but said she couldn’t wait to get her shot. “I really want to get vaccinated,” she said.

For others, the focus was different: “I’m really happy because I will discover high school and be back with my buddies,” 11-year-old Eli said.

The daily average COVID-19 contagion rate has slowed in France, and the government aims to administer a third vaccine shot to some 18 million people by early 2022, a health ministry official said on Tuesday.

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