Italy’s head teachers voice concerns ahead of school reopening

Italy's head teachers voice concerns ahead of school reopening
A headteacher walks through empty corridors at a closed Rome secondary school. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
Head teachers in Italy, bracing for the coming school year under Covid-19 protocols, say they fear they may be held legally responsible for infections in schools.

School authorities have voiced concerns ahead of the planned start of the academic year on September 14th, especially after a recent uptick in new cases – particularly in young people

“It is unthinkable that a head teacher could be blamed over a case of infection… where the health protocol has been fully applied,” Antonello Giannelli, president of the National Association of Head Teachers, told AGI Italian news wire on Monday.
 
 
The group wants the government to specify that head teachers who have followed protocols cannot be held liable if students or teachers are found to be infected.
 
According to new rules, each school must have a room where suspected cases can be immediately isolated, but the head teacher does not have the
power to decide whether or not to close the school. That decision falls to local authorities.
 
Under new security protocols, all schools must ensure a distance of at least one metre (about 3 feet) between pupils.
 
Schools are still awaiting the arrival of over two million single-seat desks nationwide that will help to ensure proper distances and avoid the need for students to wear masks during lessons. But some schools may not receive their desk deliveries before October, as factories producing them arre reportedly working around the clock ahead of the reopening date..
 
 
On Sunday, Italy shut down discos and ordered the mandatory wearing of masks from 6:00pm to 6:00am to clamp down on the spread of
infection, less than a month before the restart of school. 
 
The Italian government last week introduced mandatory testing for all travellers returning to Italy from Spain, Greece, Croatia, and Malta, in the hope of stemming new outbreaks, which officials say are often linked to Italian residents returning from holidays abroad.
 
Health authorities said on Monday that school reopenings must go ahead as planned in September despite the increase in new cases.
 
Franco Locatelli, President of Italy's Higher Health Council, said keeping schools closed beyond September 14th is “out of the question”.
 
“We need to reopen schools with the lowest possible number of cases,” he said. “The better we are doing on September 14th, the higher the probability of resuming lessons without the risk of having to close classes or buildings.”
 
Italy, which shut its schools in March, has recorded over 254,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 35,000 deaths.

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