Excitement meets worry as European kids head back to school

LONDON (AP) — Children across Europe are going back to school with hopes of a return to normality after 18 months of pandemic disruption. But in many countries, accompanying them are fears of a new surge in infections from the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus. Most European nations are retaining some face covering, social distancing or mandatory vaccination orders for returning students and staff. The British government, however, has removed mask requirements and no longer requires students to be grouped into “bubbles” to limit the spread of the virus. Many countries with high vaccine rates are banking on immunization to serve as a bulwark between infection and illness even if cases start to rise in schools.