As France prepares to start letting public life resume after eight weeks under a coronavirus lockdown, many parents are deeply torn over a question without a clear or correct answer: Should I send my child back to school? The French government is easing some of the closure and home-confinement orders it imposed March 17 to curb infections, with businesses permitted to reopen, residents cleared to return to workplaces and schools welcoming some students again starting Monday.
Only preschools and elementary schools are set to start up at first, and classes will be capped at 10 students at preschools and 15 elsewhere. Administrators were told to prioritize instruction for children ages 5, 6 and 10.
Due to the slow startup, as well as ongoing fears about COVID-19 in hard-hit France, school attendance will not be compulsory right away.
Parents and guardians may keep children at home and teachers will provide lessons like they have during the nationwide lockdown.
Students with parents who want or need to send them to school are not guaranteed places in the smaller classes and only will be allowed to attend if their school can accommodate them.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer estimated that 80% to 85% of France's 50,500 preschools and elementary schools will open this week. Junior high schools in regions with fewer virus cases are expected to reopen on May 18.