Masks and online booking: How Italy’s universities plan to reopen after lockdown

Masks and online booking: How Italy's universities plan to reopen after lockdown
A student wearing a mask at Milan's Bicocca University on March 5th, shortly before the closure. Photo: AFP
As universities as well as schools prepare to restart in September, here's a closer look at the plans for keeping students and staff safe on campus.

The Italian government's Scientific Technical Committee has on Monday signed off on a list of protocols to be followed in the country's universites as academic life is set to restart from mid-September, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports.

All schools and universities in the country were forced to shut down on March 15th due to the coronavirus crisis, but though new cases have recently risen again the government insists safety measures will allow reopening in September.

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University students can expect to wear masks whenever on campus, and to attend some classes remotely.

Here's a closer look at the rules being put in place for universities (we also have details on school reopenings and the measures being put in place for kindergartens in separate articles).

Socially-distanced lectures

Under the new protocols, students will need to be seated at least one metre apart during lectures. To ensure this, lecture halls where seating cannot be moved can only be filled to 50 percent of their usual capacity.

Crowding must be avoided as people enter and exit the room, for example by using separate entrances and exits or setting up “dedicated pathways”, the committee wrote.

Universities must also be able to guarantee that the rooms will be adequately ventilated, cleaned daily, and equipped with hand sanitiser.

Photo: AFP
 
Advance booking online
 
As lecture halls can only be half-full, students wanting to attend a class in person must reserve a seat online. Anyone who doesn't manage to bag a seat in the hall will be expected to attend remotely.
 
Reservations are to be made via apps, which many universities in Italy already have up and running. The University of Padua is using an app called EasyRoom, while Cagliari's version is called App Posto.
 
Some universites say they will arrange for all first-year students to be able to attend lectures in person, Repubblica reports.
 
Anyone who is unable to attend in person will have the option of following all classes remotely, for example students who are based remotely, or who are in at-risk groups.
 
 
Masks compulsory
 
Both students and staff will need to wear masks at all times when on the premises, and they may not be lowered or removed when in class, the guidlelines state.
 
No temperature checks
 
There's no requirement for universities to ensure students or staff have their temperatures checked on arrival. However, anyone with a high temperature or other symptoms is required stay at home.
 
What if someone at my university tests positive?
 
In the case that a student or staff member is suspected of having Covid-19, the university is required to notify health authorities and ensure the person can be isolated until a test can be performed.
 
If the person tests positive, contact tracing will begin and a decision will be made on a case-by-case basis as to whether a building or university should be closed temporarily. This decision is down to local authorities rather than the university itself.

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