Hundreds of high school students gathered in the French capital on Tuesday to protest against the lack of social distancing and COVID-19 transmission mitigation measures.
The protest comes a day after schools reopened for a new term in France, and less than a week after the country went into its second lockdown amid rising COVID-19 cases.
The students blocked the entrances with trashcans, metal grills and supermarkets trolleys of at least ten high schools in the capital, wherein the worst tensions are witnessed at The Colbert high school.
“We do not feel safe,” high school student Helene Boucher said to a reporter amid protests.
“We are all crowded in poorly ventilated rooms, even if we wear the mask.”
“We’re in a high school with classes of 35 pupils, all crowded together,” said Nora, a student at Sophie-Germain high school in Paris.
“We’re in little rooms. The canteen is tiny, without ventilation and we take our masks off to eat,” a classmate added.”
“We’re asking for teachers to be allowed to split their classes into two groups. Also, maybe for canteen times to be changed so there are not too many students at once.”
Meanwhile, the French police deployed tear gas and pepper spray in an attempt to remove the blockade and disperse crowds of students and journalists who were attempting to cover the protests.
Prior to the protests, many French students shared videos showing extreme overcrowding in their respective school’s common areas.
French President Emmanuel Macron ordered the country to enter into its second coronavirus lockdown last week and would last until at least December 1.
The new restrictions imposed allows French citizens to exercise for an hour a day within 1km from their home, but may only leave to buy essential goods and for medical appointments.
However, the said restrictions excluded schools, as the president allowed them to stay open.