Dozens of schools across France have been forced to close just days into the school year after the country recorded almost 9,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, setting a record since the beginning of the pandemic.More people were also hospitalized as a result of the disease. Health authorities said in a statement that there had been 8,975 new confirmed cases, almost 1,500 higher than the previous March 31 daily peak of 7,578, when France was in one of Europe's strictest coronavirus lockdowns.The surge in parts of France, which is partially due to increased testing, has meant a dozen schools have been forced to close just days into the new academic year. Schools in France are forced to close if a school reports three or more coronavirus cases."In mainland France there are currently 12 schools closed out of a total of more than 60,000, which is a small figure. In addition, 10 schools in La Réunion (a French department in the Indian Ocean) were closed, which makes the total 22," Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told Europe 1 radio, according to France 24.Blanquer also noted that nearly 130 classes have been cancelled, and health officials are currently looking into 250 purported COVID-19 incidents daily as a result of the return to classes.The incidents were related to "factors outside school, concerning people who could have been contaminated" during the summer break, according to France 24. The seven-day moving average of new infections, which smoothes out reporting irregularities, stood at an eighth consecutive record of 6,011, versus a low of 272 on May 27 - two weeks after authorities lifted the two-month-long lockdown.The cumulative number of cases now totals 309,156.As the rise in infections has mainly affected young people, who are less likely to develop complications, there has so far been less strain on French hospitals, which were almost overwhelmed at the end of March.But after falling steadily for months after an April 14 peak of 32,292, the number of people hospitalized was up by 28 on Friday to 4,671, rising for a sixth day in a row.Among those, the number of people in intensive care units (ICUs) for COVID-19 rose by 9 to 473, far below the April 8 record of 7,148, but increasing for an eighth consecutive day.The number of people in France reported to have died from COVID-19 was 30,686, down by 20 compared to 24 hours earlier as authorities revised the number of deaths in nursing homes.