Paris started its 2021-22 school year with 6,000 fewer kindergarten and primary school students than last year, as more people work from home in response to the Covid crisis, officials have said.
The number of Paris schoolchildren has been falling steadily over the past decade, leading to the closure of several schools.
But the five-percent drop this year, to 113,000 students, is two to three times greater than in previous years.
"We're seeing both the structural phenomenon of lower natality rates" combined with "the effects of Covid and working from home," said Patrick Bloche, one of the city's deputy mayors.
20 classes closed
As a result, the net loss has been 20 classes closed across the city this year, leaving an average of 21 children in each kindergarten class and 20 in primary schools numbers that other cities would dream of having, Bloche added.
"It's quite huge, we've never had so many pupils lost in one year," says the director of a school in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, which has 115 pupils this year, compared to 140 last year.
According to her, many families have left to live in the suburbs or regions. "We are taking advantage of this," she adds.
"We have small classes, which are very good conditions for teachers and students to work in."
The average number of pupils per class now is 20.5 in Paris, according to figures from the rectorat.
This does not prevent the director from being worried about the future of her school:
"We will be working on the number of pupils at the beginning of the school year, and it will probably be necessary to consider closing classes."
With many companies expected to make working from home much more widespread even after the Covid crisis is over, more families with children could quit the capital.
Families are also fleeing the capital's soaring property prices to find bigger homes for less money.