The state of education in France is moving forward, with only a fraction of 1% of France’s 60,000 schools presently closed, said the country’s education minister on Wednesday.

“The situation we have to face is the best possible given the health crisis,” Jean-Michel Blanquer told LCI Radio.

“We have about 1,200 new cases of COVID-19 among students compared to the previous week,” he said, adding, “As I speak to you, there are 81 schools or establishments that are closed, so there are a little over 2,100 classes that are closed. It’s still a good start to the school year.”

Blanquer said in general classes close if three or more children fall ill, adding that the call is more often up to local health authorities in any given city or region.

“To be honest, there are classes that have closed with less than three sick students,” he said.

French secondary school students – age 11 and up – are obliged to wear a mask, with those younger free to do so if they choose.

According to the Health Ministry, the number of new coronavirus infections overall remains high, with 7,852 over the last 24 hours and 37 new fatalities. A total of 866 new clusters of infection now exist in the country, up 68 from Tuesday to Wednesday.

France has suffered 30,999 deaths since the start of record-keeping for the pandemic. A total of 2,713 people remain in hospital, with 479 in intensive care. The number of departments considered vulnerable has risen to 82, doubling over the past week.

Worldwide, the death toll from COVID-19 stands at 935,446 in 188 countries, with the number of infections at just over 29.5 million, according to the latest figures from the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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