France has recorded 70 new cases of COVID-19 in schools that were allowed to reopen last week, the country’s education minister said on Monday.
France closed its school and higher education institutes from March 17 as part of the country’s measures to contain the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
France had recorded over 180,000 coronavirus cases and more than 28,000 deaths as of May 18.
After two months of lockdown, France has begun to lift restrictions, including the reopening of some shops and preschools and elementary schools.
According to France24, classes have been capped at 10 students for preschools and 15 students for other age groups.
Despite social distancing measures in classes, some kids have caught the disease.
Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told French radio station RTL on Monday that 70 new cases of COVID-19 had been detected in the week since students came back, which he said was “inevitable.”
“It’s inevitable this sort of thing will happen,” he said. “In almost all cases, this [transmission] has happened outside of the school.”
Blanquer noted that the 70 cases were a small proportion of the 1.4 million schoolchildren who have returned. He said the affected schools would be closed immediately.
France is among several European countries, including Germany, Denmark, Norway, the Czech Republic, and Poland, that have started to lift lockdown measures, though many have warned that the process will be slow and closely monitored.
Denmark became the first European country to reopen schools last month, prompting parents to raise concerns that their children were being used as “guinea pigs” to test government policies.
Still, European officials have downplayed the risks of sending kids back to school, saying that the alternative would be more harmful to students in the long run.
“There will be terrible damage if we lose a generation of children who have been stopped from going to school for several months,” Blanquer said, according to The Guardian.
On Monday, Blaženka Divjak, the minister for education in Croatia, said at a press conference that there hasn’t been a significant increase in cases since European schools opened their doors.
“So far we haven’t heard anything negative about the reopening of schools but it is probably too early to have final conclusions on that,” she said.