PARIS (Reuters) – French schoolchildren will be allowed to do self-tests instead of a PCR test if one of their classmates is infected with the coronavirus as soaring new infections have made the health protocol in schools too heavy, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Monday.
“I have understood the worries of the parents, teachers and school headmasters”, Castex told France 2 television, after a surge in cases due to the Omicron variant led to chaos and paralysis in French schools over the last week.
“Today, 10,452 classes had to close. If we were to shut down classes as soon as there is one first case, having in mind the explosion of Omicron, all French schools would be closed in a matter of days”, Castex said.
From now on, three negative self-tests instead of a PCR test will be enough proof for a child to continue to attend school, Castex said.
He added that as an additional measure parents will not immediately be asked to pick up their children in case of a COVID-19 outbreak. Instead the schools will be allowed to wait until the end of the school day.
France is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases with a runaway Omicron infection rate boosting hospitalisations on Monday by biggest increase since April 2021.
(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel, Editing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Sandra Maler)