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What happens if there’s a Covid-19 outbreak in Italian schools?

Italian schools have reopened, but despite health measures there is still a risk of Covid-19 outbreaks. So what happens if cases are detected in your child's school?

What happens if there's a Covid-19 outbreak in Italian schools?
A sign outsie a school in Rome reads: "Together we will make it. School at last." All photos: Vinzenzo Pinto/AFP

Most Italian schools returned on September 14th with all pupils expected to attend – though some are on a reduced timetable, or holding some lessons online for now.

A range of health rules are in place, including masks in the classroom for all pupils over the age of six.

READ ALSO: 'The first week back at school in Italy went well – then came the elections and strikes'

But in spite of all the precautions, Italian authorities admit cases of Covid-19 in schools are likely to happen.

So what happens if a pupil or staff member tests positive?

Though regional rules may vary slightly, here's what Italian authorities say ahead of the return to school.

Isolation

Parents have been asked to check their child's temperature regularly and not to send their child to school if they have a high temperature, cough or fever.

“Pupils are obliged to stay at home in the presence of temperatures over 37.5° or other flu-like symptoms,” the Education Ministry writes in its FAQ on the return to school.

If a child develops these symptoms while at school they will be isolated from the class, given a surgical mask and montored by a member of staff (from a distance) until their parent or guardian can take them home, the ministry's guidelines state.

Quarantine

Children with symptoms must remain at home until they have had the results of a Covid-19 test – your child's pediatrician will be able to advise on available testing centres in your area.

Any child who tests positive will have to observe the 14-day quarantine at home.

IN PHOTOS: Schools start to reopen in Italy after six-month closure

Cleaning and tracing

If any child or staff member tests positive, the school must thoroughly disinfect any areas they have been in and create a list of all the people that person has been in contact with.

The list is then sent to health authorities, who will contact everyone on the list and invite them for testing.

Closures

The local health authority (ASL) will then make a decision on what needs to be closed – whether this is just one class or the entire school.

Authorities insist schools should remain open as far as possible, but each decision is taken on a case-by-case basis by local authorities and depends on the spread of the virus, the level of contact, the layout of the school buildings and many other factors.

Parental leave

Probably the key question for any parents whose children are sent home from school – are you entitled to time off work to look after them? 

On September 3rd new measures were approved allowing special parental leave for parents of children who are quarantined.
 
According to details published on the INPS (social security office) website, if children under the age of 14 have to stay home from school for quarantine, parents will be entitled to work remotely or take extra parental leave .
 
Home-learning

If a class or school is closed, teachers will be expected to put in place distance learning solutions in the same way that they did during the lockdown, so parents trying to work at home while also looking after their children can take small comfort from knowing that the kids will at least have some schoolwork to be getting on with.

 

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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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