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French parents set up woodland classroom in protest at school closure

Children attend classes in woodland near the town of Montmeyran, southeast France, on May 12, 2020.
Children attend classes in woodland near the town of Montmeyran, southeast France, on May 12, 2020. © AFP / FRANCE 24

Most primary schools in France have re-opened as the country emerges from Covid-19 lockdown. But some local mayors have opted to keep schools shut, prompting parents of a small town in the country’s southeast to set up their own school in local woodland.

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Around nine children, aged 4-7, attended the first day of classes in woodland owned by one of the parents near the town of Montmeyran, in the Drôme, with desks, chairs and whiteboards all set up in a specially pruned clearing.

Lessons included maths, physics and reading with parents acting as teachers.

The French government authorised primary schools to re-open from May 12. But mayors in some towns have decided to keep schools closed for the time being.

In Montmeyran, the mayor says the town lacks the manpower to disinfect the school and ensure safety measures.

The decision has upset some local parents, who say taking time off work to look after their children has become increasingly difficult.

”There are parents in Montmeyran who risk losing their jobs, there are parents who take them to work, there are children who end up in warehouses, it can’t go on,” parent Damien Boyer told AFP.

“The goal is to remain here as little as possible, because right now we’re in the woods, but tomorrow we want to be in school.”

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