Italy's decision to delay reopening of high schools until 11 January follows heated debate in government. Kindergartens, elementary and middle schools will reopen as planned on 7 January. New anti-covid measures will be in place from 7 to 15 January, with Italy becoming an 'orange zone' on the weekend of 9-10 January.
The Italian government has decided to reopen Italy's high schools on Monday 11 January, not on Thursday 7 January, amid an extension of its anti-covid measures in place over the Christmas period, reports news agency ANSA.
The decision to delay the reopening of high schools was reached in the early hours of this morning after late night talks in which the government's coalition parties clashed over the reopening date, following days of uncertainty for parents, teachers and students.
Premier Giuseppe Conte and his education minister Lucia Azzolina of the populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) had sought to reopen the scuole superiori on 7 January, as planned, along with kindergartens, middle and elementary schools.
The centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) delegation, headed up by culture minister Dario Franceschini, pushed for high schools not to reopen any sooner than 15 January while the liberal Italia Viva party, represented by agriculture minister Teresa Bellanova, demanded that high schools reopen on 7 January.
In the end a compromise date was reached and the date of 11 January was chosen. The reopening of high schools will see just 50 per cent of lessons being held in person, in the classroom, with the rest conducted via remote learning.
However regional leaders may decide to delay the reopening date of high schools further, as has already happened in several regions where local authorities have chosen to wait and see what the impact of the Christmas holidays will be in terms of new covid-19 infections.
Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia in the north are set to keep their high schools closed until 31 January, with high schools set to reopen on 25 January in the southern Campania region around Naples.
New anti-covid measures 7-15 January 2021
The government has decided to extend the anti-covid measures in place over the Christmas period, from 7-15 January.
The nationwide measures, which come into effect the day after La Befana, will see Italy become an 'orange zone' on the weekend of 9-10 January and a "reinforced" yellow zone on the other days, reports ANSA.
This includes a ban on travel between regions - except for proven urgent or necessary reasons including work - and a continuation of the rule permitting a maximum of two non-cohabiting people to visit private homes within their region.
On the 'yellow days' restaurants and bars can stay open until 18.00, after which they can provide take-away and home delivery services.
Italy is currently in the highest level 'red zone' until 6 January, a nationwide public holiday for the feast of the Epiphany.
Cover image: Italian premier Giuseppe Conte. Photo credit: vasilis asvestas / Shutterstock.com.