Covid-19: Italy calls summit on school reopening after teaching staff test positive

Covid-19: Italy calls summit on school reopening after teaching staff test positive
Schools in Italy have been closed since early March due to the coronavirus crisis. Photo: AFP
The Italian government on Wednesday afternoon called a summit on the reopening of the nation's schools, planned for September 14th.
The summit's aim is to finalise the details of plans for getting students back to school safely, amid a recent rise in new coronavirus cases across the country.
 
Among the key issues to be discussed is a protocol for managing positive cases detected in schools, Italy's Ansa news agency reports.
 
 
Education Minister Lucia Azzolina and several other.government ministers are to take part in the summit, along with regional governors.
 
Also taking part is Covid commissioner Domenico Arcuri and civil protection head Angelo Borrelli, who is known for his daily updates on the figures during the emergency phase of the crisis.
 
The summit, which is taking place by videoconference, was called after a number of teaching staff tested positive for the virus.
 
Some 20 staff have tested positive in Umbria and a further six in the Treviso area, Ansa reports.
 
 
Some regional authorities also dispute the current government guidelines on school reopenings, with Liguria's Governor Giovanni Toti saying he was against pupils having to wear masks during lessons. He clamed his view was supported by several other regional governors.
 
While children under six years old will not need to wear a mask in school, government officials are yet to give a final decision on the rules for older pupils.
 
The Ministry of Education has published details of many of the safety protocols for the new school year, though several points are yet to be clarified.
 
Photo: AFP
 
Class sizes are to be cut, and safety protocol stresses the need to ensure a distance of at least one metre (about 3 feet) between pupils on school premises. 

It's left up to each school to decide how to arrange their classrooms accordingly – though the government has put out a tender for more than two million one-person desks, which are hoped to remove the need for students to wear masks in class.

Schools are still awaiting the arrival of the desks however, and there are concerns some schools may not receive their desk deliveries before October.

READ ALSO: Italy warned schools 'must reopen at any cost' despite new coronavirus outbreaks

Amid a lack of clarity about the rules with just weeks to go before schools reopen, some Italian headtachers have raised concerns that they may be held legally responible for outbreaks at their schools.

Health authorities said last week that school reopenings must go ahead as planned in September despite the recent uptick in new coronavirus 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 all schools in early March, has recorded over 255,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 35,000 deaths.

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