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Reader question: Do international school teachers have to be vaccinated to work in Italy?

With the new school year approaching, teachers in Italy are wondering what Covid-19 requirements they'll need to meet when they return to class.

Reader question: Do international school teachers have to be vaccinated to work in Italy?
Covid-19 health passes are compulsory for everyone working in schools in Italy. File photo: Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

QUESTION: I’ve been hired to teach at an international school in Italy from September, but I won’t be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by then. Do I need to show a vaccination certificate or is that only for teachers at Italian state schools?

The Italian government recently decided to make Covid-19 health certificates – proof of vaccination, recovery or a recent negative test – compulsory for teachers and anyone else who works in schools in Italy, starting with the new academic year in September.

It’s a key part of the strategy to ensure that pupils can learn in person, after constantly changing Covid restrictions kept them in and out of classrooms for much of the past 18 months. 

READ ALSO: Italian schools set to keep using masks and distancing from September

While some of the details remain to be finalised – such as who’ll be checking all those certificates every day – the Italian government is clear on the principal, which it enshrined in a decree of August 6th.

That decree states that the requirement applies from kindergartens through to universities, and yes – international schools are included.

The Italian Education Ministry made it explicit in an advisory note of August 14th: the measures apply to “state educational institutions, private and non-private”. Also included are nurseries, adult education centres, colleges of dance and music and other higher education institutes.

Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

Private schools in Italy, including international ones, have been subject to the same rules as state schools throughout the pandemic, with the same quota of remote teaching and the same requirements to spread out desks and wear face masks

And equally, international school teachers benefitted from priority access to vaccination in Italy, just like their Italian counterparts. The government’s latest figures indicate that almost 80 percent of school staff in Italy are fully vaccinated.

For those who aren’t, several options are available before the start of the new term.

If you have been vaccinated (or recovered) in another country, speak to your school about which documents they will require. While for general purposes health certificates from other EU or Schengen countries – as well as the UK, the US, Canada, Israel or Japan – are recognised in Italy, schools are responsible for checking teachers’ certificates and will be able to advise on what documents they can accept, along with how to get an Italian equivalent if necessary.

READ ALSO

If you have had one dose in Italy and are still waiting for the second, you qualify for an Italian ‘Green Pass’, which is issued 15 days after the first dose. It will remain valid until you receive your second shot, 24-48 hours after which you can claim an updated version attesting that you are fully vaccinated.

If you have not had either dose, appointments are open to all adults in Italy. Find a guide to booking here. If you are not signed up to the public healthcare system in Italy, ask your school to help you make arrangements, or try one of the options described here.

Of the four vaccines approved for use in the EU, three are recommended in Italy for under-60s: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. While the first two require two doses roughly five weeks apart, you will be considered fully vaccinated 15 days after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – which means that you might still just about have time to get fully immunised for the first or second week of school. 

Alternatively, if you recently recovered from Covid-19, you can claim a Green Pass by producing a medical certificate from a health authority. It will remain valid for six months after the date you were diagnosed.

EXPLAINED: How can you get Italy’s ‘green pass’ if you’re not vaccinated?

If you are unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons, you should obtain a certificate of exemption from an authorised doctor in Italy, which you can use in place of a Green Pass until September 30th. Find more information here (in Italian). 

If you have chosen not to get vaccinated, you can continue teaching but you must take alternative measures to protect your pupils and colleagues – namely, you will have to get tested for coronavirus every 48 hours. Some schools may be providing testing on campus, at least in the early weeks of term: speak to your employer to find out what arrangements will be made.

Photo by PIERRE TEYSSOT / AFP

Bear in mind that most schools are likely to advise you to get vaccinated as the most reliable way to comply with the government’s rules, not to mention to protect your community. 

School staff who neglect to observe either vaccination or testing requirements, and who do not have proof of recent recovery from Covid-19, will be suspended without pay after four days of failing to show a health certificate.

The rules will remain in place from September 1st until at least December 31st 2021.

What about international students in Italy?

No school pupils of any age have to show a health certificate to attend class in Italy.

However, university students – including at private institutions – are required to do so, along with lecturers and all other university staff. 

Students who plan to attend courses in Italy between September and December this year should prepare to observe the same requirements outlined above. 

READ ALSO: Italy to vaccinate 12-18-year-olds against Covid-19 without appointments

The American University of Rome, for instance, is advising incoming overseas students to get vaccinated as soon as possible – either in their home country or on arrival in Italy.

In some cases, single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccinations may be available without appointments or without a tessera sanitaria (Italian healthcare card). Contact your university for more information about your options for getting vaccinated in Italy as an international student.

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BREXIT

‘It’s their loss’: Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

The UK is missing out by barring highly skilled Italian graduates from accessing a new work visa, Italy's universities minister said on Wednesday.

'It's their loss': Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

Universities and Research Minister Cristina Messa said she was disappointed by the UK’s decision not to allow any graduates of Italian universities access to its ‘High Potential Individual’ work permit.

“They’re losing a big slice of good graduates, who would provide as many high skills…it’s their loss,” Messa said in an interview with news agency Ansa, adding that Italy would petition the UK government to alter its list to include Italian institutions.

Ranked: Italy’s best universities and how they compare worldwide

“It’s a system that Britain obviously as a sovereign state can choose to implement, but we as a government can ask (them) to revise the university rankings,” she said.

The High Potential Individual visa, which launches on May 30th, is designed to bring highly skilled workers from the world’s top universities to the UK in order to compensate for its Brexit-induced labour shortage.

Successful applicants do not require a job offer to be allowed into the country but can apply for one after arriving, meaning potential employers won’t have to pay sponsorship fees.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

The visa is valid for two years for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and three years for PhD holders, with the possibility of moving into “other long-term employment routes” that will allow the individual to remain in the country long-term.

READ ALSO: Eight things you should know if you’re planning to study in Italy

Italy isn’t the only European country to have been snubbed by the list, which features a total of 37 global universities for the 2021 graduation year (the scheme is open to students who have graduated in the past five years, with a different list for each graduation year since 2016).

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Switzerland, Paris Sciences et Lettres, the University of Munich, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are the sole European inclusions in the document, which mainly privileges US universities.

Produced by the UK’s Education Ministry, the list is reportedly based on three global rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Messa said she will request that the UK consider using ‘more up-to-date indicators’, without specifying which alternative system she had in mind.

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