Back-To-School guidelines deal reached in Italy

epa08510997 Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (L) and Education Minister Lucia Azzolina (R) wear face masks as they take their seats before holding a joint press conference at the Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy, 26 June 2020. Conte vowed to make the redesign of the upcoming school year a pillar of his government's coronavirus recovery plan. 'We want to have schools offering educational and modern courses, with safer infrastructures,' Conte said. EPA-EFE/GIUSEPPE LAMI

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The government on Friday reached an agreement with Italy’s regions and local authorities on the guidelines for the reopening of schools in safety in September amid the coronavirus emergency.

An initial draft of the government’s guidelines came under heavy fire from the regions, who complained about an alleged failure to allocate the necessary financial resources to the plan, and the national head teachers association, which said they did not provide the instructions they needed on how to move forward.

The new version of the plan foresees the creation of a special body involving school principals to analyse the needs of the schools and collect information regarding the buildings, classrooms and furniture so that solutions can be found.

The guidelines also specifically refer to the need to keep pupils one metre apart from each other. Emilia-Romagna Governor Stefano Bonaccini, the head of the conference of regions, said the agreement was “an excellent result” after winning commitments on funding from central government.

“Adequate resources are needed first of all to bring about the organizational and educational solutions foreseen in the plan,” Bonaccini said.

“That’s why it is necessary to increase the fund by at least a billion euros and we have had precise reassurances from Education Minister Lucia Azzolina on this”.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the deal was an “important step forward”. But Campania Governor Vincenzo De Luca gave the thumbs down, complaining, among other things, about a teacher shortfall and the decision to hold an series elections on September 20, meaning many public schools will probably have to close for a day to be used as voting stations.

Education Undersecretary Peppe De Cristofaro told SkyTg24 that schools would reopen on September 14. He also said that distance learning, which was used at all levels during the COVID-19 lockdown, would only be an option for high schools in the new academic year. “We are allocating one billion euros for extra investments in schools to make them more modern, safe and inclusive,” said Premier Giueppe Conte.

ANSA

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