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WATCH: Paris riot police use tear gas & pepper spray to disperse students protesting over insufficient Covid-19 measures

French police deployed tear gas to remove blockades outside at least 10 high schools in Paris as students staged protests over coronavirus protocols not followed properly as the new academic year got underway in the country.

Hundreds of high school students in the French capital protested against inadequate social distancing and coronavirus transmission mitigation measures on Tuesday, a day after schools reopened for a new term across France - less than one week after the country entered its second lockdown amid a surge in Covid-19 cases. 

The students used trash cans to block the entrances to at least ten schools in the capital, with some of the worst tensions seen at The Colbert high school in the city’s 10th arrondissement and the Sophie-Germain school in the 4th arrondissement. 

Heavily armored police officers wearing masks, many of whom brandished shields,  deployed tear gas to disperse crowds of students and even turned on journalists attempting to cover the protests. Some 60 students were reportedly fined for their involvement in the disturbance.  

“We do not feel safe,” said high school student Helene Boucher told BFM broadcaster amidst the protests. “We are all crowded in poorly ventilated rooms, even if we wear the mask.”

Earlier, many French students shared videos purporting to show extreme overcrowding in common areas in schools that have opened their doors for the new school year on Monday. 

One teacher’s collective called for proper protocols to be implemented to protect students and teachers during the new term, amid rising coronavirus cases and a freshly-imposed lockdown from which academic institutions are exempt.

The schools have opened despite France entering its second coronavirus lockdown last week with the new restrictions expected to last until at least December 1. French citizens are permitted to exercise for one hour a day within 1km of their home, are asked to work from home where possible, and may only leave to buy essential goods and for medical appointments.

Also on rt.com Covid-19: 1 Parisian infected every 30 seconds and the virus won’t stop for Christmas – Health Minister Veran

Meanwhile, France reported a grim record of 52,518 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, as its death toll rose by 416 to 37,435. Health Minister Olivier Véran claimed that the equivalent of one Parisian every 30 seconds are being infected with coronavirus at current rates, while every 15 minutes another Covid-19 patient is hospitalized.

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