France will close schools nationwide for three weeks in light of rising infection rates, President Emmanuel Macron announced in a national televised address on Wednesday.
There will be one week of distance learning, followed by a general two-week spring break for everyone.
The decision marks the first time this school year that schools will be closed down. Schools in France were previously closed only during the first strict lockdown last spring; after that, Macron had vowed to keep them open as long as possible.
Restrictions on residents and businesses that already apply in many parts of the country will also be extended to the entire nation.
The entire country has been under a tight lockdown for weeks, but is having little luck in getting the spread of the coronavirus under control. There have been about 95,000 Covid-19 deaths since the pandemic began.
The number of new coronavirus infections per 100,000 residents in the past seven days stands at about 375.
The situation has grown even more serious in recent weeks as hospitals have begun reporting that they are reaching capacity, echoing the chaotic situation that reigned a year ago when Europe was first being hit by the disease's spread.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told broadcaster BFMTV/RMC earlier Wednesday that she thought it was time to close the country's schools in an attempt to limit social contacts and stop the disease from spreading.
She noted that there are already 20,000 children in the city who can't attend classes because either they are sick or because their class has been sent home due to a coronavirus outbreak.