Politicians and parents call for end of mask mandate in Italy's schools.
The Italian government is facing growing calls to drop its covid mask mandate in schools, before it expires on 15 June, as students face rising temperatures in the classroom in the final weeks of the summer term.
Leading the calls for the mask mandate to be scrapped is Italy's education undersecretary, Rossano Sasso of the right-wing Lega party, who said he has been asked by "many families to adopt a measure of common sense for the last part of the school year."
Sasso said the request is in light of "both the improvement in epidemiological data and the sharp rise in temperatures which, especially in the south where it is well over 30 degrees, makes it really hard to follow lessons".
This view is echoed by Lega leader Matteo Salvini who said: "It doesn't make sense, let's change this unnecessarily punitive rule, the children deserve it", reports Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper.
The president of the north-west Liguria region, Giovanni Toti, also cited "common sense" in calling for the mask mandate to be dropped in schools, saying: "How is it possible that students have to wear it in class, even while sitting spaced apart at desks, and then they can go around without it in indoor shopping malls?
Regional authorities in the autonomous provinces of Bolzano and Trento are in favour of ending the school mask mandate early and have appealed to Italy's education and health ministers, Patrizio Bianchi and Roberto Speranza.
Welcoming debate on the issue, health undersecretary Andrea Costa told Sky Tg24 on Tuesday: "I am convinced that especially during lessons, when our young people and our children are sitting in their seats, they can remove the masks."
However, for now at least, there is no budge from Speranza who said the decision for students to wear masks in the classroom was taken on "scientific, not political" grounds.
Filippo Anelli, president of the national federation of doctors' guilds FNOMCEO, told Italian news agency Adnkronos on Monday that under certain conditions - including open windows and distancing - it would be possible to "think about eliminating masks in school" but added he would wait another week to decide.
The debate about schoolchildren wearing masks comes as the government confirmed its mask mandate on planes would remain in force until 15 June following news that the EU would cease obliging air travellers to wear masks from 16 May.
FFP2 masks must be worn until 15 June on all local and long-distance public transport as well as in cinemas, theatres, hospitals, care homes, indoor sporting events, concerts, schools and universities.
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