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French doctors say 6-year-olds should wear masks when schools restart

French doctors have argued that children as young as six should be required to wear masks as schools across the country prepare to re-open after the summer break on Tuesday.

The appeal comes ahead of the return of millions of French schoolchildren to classrooms and amid a spike in coronavirus cases across the country.

As it stands, children aged 11 and over are required to wear masks and restrictions remain on public and private gatherings in France, but schools are preparing to open largely as normal.

This contrasts to countries like Denmark and the US, where class sizes have been reduced and more teachers drafted in, and where online classes will supplement physical ones.

A teacher at the Anatole France school in Antony, near Paris, told AP that children – aged 3 to 11 – will not be expected to respect social distancing once the term begins.

“As soon as they’ll be in contact with one another, we’re going to try and (get them to wash their hands)… but let’s not fool ourselves. We know that with 25 pupils, we won’t always be able to keep an eye on each of them,” said nursery teacher Cecile Cluchier.

But not all schools in France will return as usual. Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said Monday that some classrooms are not ready to take children back and would remain closed.

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