The children, from Giacomo Albo di Modica school in Ragusa, had been due to go on the trip on Monday, but a group of about 60 parents rallied against it, saying “the risk of them catching a disease is too great, and we don’t want to take that risk,” according to a report in La Repubblica.
The children would have travelled on one of the buses, chartered by the local council, used to transport migrants from the port of Pozzallo to an emergency holding centre between Comiso and Ragusa in recent days, the newspaper said.
Their fears were compounded by stories in the press that the migrants, mostly Etrireans fleeing political oppression, were suffering from contagious diseases.
They also believed that the buses "are not disinfected" before being used by school children.
“There is no time to clean them,” a mother, called Clara, was quoted in La Repubblica as saying.
“Because many migrants arrive during the night and are immediately transferred to Comiso. The drivers then take the bus to the depot, and the next morning those same buses are used to take our children on school trips. As a mother, I don’t feel safe and so decided not to let my son go [on the trip].”
The parents addressed their concerns with Michele Colombo, a councillor for Il Megafono, a left-leaning party in Sicily, who raised the issue with Ignazio Abbate, the local mayor.
Colombo was quoted in the Catania edition of Corriere as saying that the fears over health were not “racist” and were “legitimate” because in recent days there had been press reports about migrants suffering from “tuberculosis and scabies”.
“One woman was even found to be suffering from AIDS,” he added.
“We need to gain full knowledge of the procedures adopted by the company for the buses used to transport migrants and those used for school trips, and which also could be used to take children to school in the morning."
Thousands of migrants have landed in Sicily over the past week as good weather has made the often treacherous crossing from the African continent less risky.
Immigration centres are full while temporary camps are proving inadequate. More than 22,000 migrants have arrived in Italy since the start of the year – 10 times more than the number in the same period in 2013.