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Italy’s head teachers voice concerns ahead of school reopening

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.

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

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.

READ ALSO: Where are Italy's new coronavirus clusters?

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COVID-19

Reader Question: What are Italy’s Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Italy's quarantine rules have changed so many times over the past couple of years, it can be hard to keep track. Here's the latest information on when and how visitors need to self-isolate.

Reader Question: What are Italy's Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Question: “One of your recent articles says you can exit quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. But you can also exit quarantine by obtaining a Letter of Recovery from Covid-19… true?”

Unfortunately, official proof of having recovered from Covid-19 won’t get you out of the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while visiting Italy – though it can shorten your quarantine period.

Anyone who tests positive in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle or recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and boosted, or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine in order to be allowed out.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter its borders, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/ have recently recovered from Covid.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Some countries (including the US), however, do require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure – which means visitors at the tail end of their journey could be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

It’s because of this rule that a number of The Local’s readers told us they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer, and intend to postpone for another year.

If you are planning on visiting Italy from a country that requires you to test negative for Covid prior to re-entry, it’s a good idea to consider what you would do and where you would go in the unlikely event you unexpectedly test positive.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

You can keep up with the latest updates via our homepage or Italian travel news section.

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