Numerous schools and classes have been closed in France because of the H1N1 flu pandemic.
Unlike countries such as the US and Britain, who say they’ll only close schools in exceptional circumstances, French officials have ordered one-week closures in several regions. Some experts warn that school closures do not reduce the number of cases, but just spread them over a longer period. At least one affected school near Paris has given its students laptop computers, so teachers can continue to distribute work. One student forced to stay at home said: “They’ve given us excercises to do, a chapter to read in a book, and we’ll have a test when we’re back at school. So we do have to work.” Companies are also footing the bill to protect their staff, buying the likes of hand gel, gloves and masks. “Of course it’s money we can’t get back from our customers,” said a French transport company manager. “It’s part of spending during a crisis period, and so it’s money that will come out of our profits.” At the moment some 20,000 new cases of H1N1 are being reported in France every week.