Covid-19: Italy's schools reopen with new rules

Schools in Italy reopen for first time since March.

Teachers in Italy return to work today as schools prepare to begin the new academic year on 14 September, after a nationwide closure of six months due to the covid-19 pandemic.

School teachers will spend the next two weeks planning and preparing for the arrival of students, with catch-up lessons for some pupils beginning today, both face-to-face and online, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

Students will not need to wear masks at their desks so long as they maintain interpersonal distance of one metre, according to the technical scientific committee advising the Italian government on covid-19 protocols.

Face masks will however be obligatory for all children over the age of six when they move around the school building, except for gym class, eating in canteens and answering a teacher.

Italy's transport ministry has approved protocols stipulating that school buses and public transport carrying students must operate at a maximum of 80 per cent capacity.

Italy has also delivered 2.4 million single-use desks - for social distancing reasons - with plans to hand out millions of masks along with 170,000 litres of hand sanitiser each week.

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

"We have a great historic responsibility," Azzolina wrote in a letter to schools, assuring that Italy "will have the resources from Europe with which to build the school of tomorrow."