French students clash with police as coronavirus protests loom

French students clash with police as coronavirus protests loom, in Compiegne, France in this still image taken from a social media video, November 9, 2020. TWITTER/FAYVIXE/via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - Students outside a high school in Compiegne, north of the French capital Paris, clashed with police on Monday in protests over health risks posed by schools being open during the novel coronavirus crisis, police and the town’s mayor said.

The local police department said on Twitter that four arrests had been made, one fireman had suffered minor injuries and that there had been “unacceptable” incidents of criminal damage caused during the clashes.

Videos on social media showed a group of youths surrounding a police car outside the Lycee Mireille Grenet school and trying to overturn it, while other videos showed fires burning in the street.

Compiegne Mayor Philippe Marini also confirmed to BFM TV that there had been trouble, and condemned the attacks on police officers.

Student demonstrations having started to build up in France over the last week, with some teachers and students protesting against keeping schools open - while the rest of France is in lockdown - saying it jeopardises their health due to the risk of catching COVID-19 on crowded school premises.

Last week, riot police pepper-sprayed students after they blockaded a Paris high school in protest over inadequate COVID-19 sanitary measures.

Teachers’ unions are due to hold a nationwide day of protests and strikes on Tuesday.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta,; Editing by Robert Birsel and Ed Osmond