Covid-19: Italy reopens schools as 13,000 staff test positive

Italy's new academic year begins with the reopening of schools on 14 September.

Around 13,000 teachers and staff in Italian schools have registered positive results after being tested for covid-19, days before Italy reopens its schools to students on 14 September.

More than half a million school employees, both teachers and non-teachers, have undergone serological testing in recent days, ahead of the full reopening of schools on Monday.

The number tested represents about half of the country's 970,000 school staff, with the number of those who registered a positive result equating to 2.6 per cent of those tested, reports Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.

School employees who tested positive are not permitted to return to work until they register a negative test result.

Italy's coronavirus emergency commissioner Domenico Arcuri told Tg1 News that two million tests are currently being distributed to schools across the country, in addition to millions of masks, with a free mask to be given each day to every student, teacher and staff member.

The central Lazio region, which includes Rome, is carrying out screening of its 200,000 school staff independently, reports Il Fatto Quotidiano.

On 11 September the Italian association of school head teachers (ANP) called on the government to make it obligatory for students returning from an absence of three days or more to present a doctor's note certifying they have recovered, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

Meanwhile the union of Italian students is planning to stage demonstrations on 25-26 September to protest against alleged failings in preparing schools to reopen, reports ANSA. The union claims that transport services are lacking and teacher numbers are insufficient.

Admitting that "it will be a tough year," Italy's education minister Lucia Azzolina acknowledged recently that there is "understandable concern" in relation to schools but reassured that Italy now has "clear rules, among the most rigorous in Europe."

Italy's schools reopened on 1 September for catch-up lessons after a nationwide closure of six months due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Although the official school opening date is 14 September, several Italian regions will reopen their schools on different dates: in the northern Alto Adige region schools reopened on 7 September, in Sardinia they reopen on 22 September, and in the southern region of Puglia the reopening date is 24 September.

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