French schoolkids can skip classes to self-isolate before Christmas

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PARIS – French schoolchildren will be allowed to skip classes and stay at home on Thursday and Friday if their families wish to self-isolate ahead of Christmas, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Tuesday.

The medical council advising the government on COVID-19 said on Monday that families who planned to host people vulnerable to the coronavirus, such as elderly relatives, should quarantine for a week beforehand if possible.

Schools should not punish pupils who missed the last two days of the academic term, the council added.

Asked if he supported the recommendation, Castex told Europe 1 radio: “Of course.”

Governments across Europe are grappling with how to contain a powerful second wave of the virus just as families yearn to gather over the festive period.

France is delaying the reopening of theatres, museums and cinemas and re-imposing a nightly curfew from Tuesday, while the Netherlands is going into a tough second lockdown and Germany is shutting down non-essential shops from Wednesday.

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