Covid: Italy reopens schools without masks

Italy will no longer require masks in schools as new academic year begins.

Italy's health minister Roberto Speranza has confirmed that students will not be obliged to wear masks in the classroom when schools reopen in September.

The minister, speaking to Radio RTL 102.5 at the weekend, said that masks will "certainly not" be required at the start of the academic year but warned that health authorities would "evaluate the epidemiological situation step by step".

"We have gradually passed from a dynamic of obligation to a dynamic of recommendation", Speranza said, as Italy relaxes its covid rules in schools.

The health minster's remarks came days after the education ministry issued principals with new guidelines which take effect from 1 September, the day after Italy's emergency covid-19 restrictions for schools expire.

The circular from the education ministry clarifies that FFP2 masks will however be required for "school staff and pupils who are at risk of developing severe forms of covid-19."

There will also be an end to remote teaching or distance learning - known in Italy as 'didattica a distanza' (DAD) - in the event of a student in the class testing positive for covid.

In addition, unvaccinated teachers can finally return to teach in the classroom. Under last December's controversial vaccine mandate, teachers who refused to get vaccinated against covid were suspended without pay. On 1 April they were allowed to return to school but were not permitted to teach.

Most schools in Italy, including in Rome, will reopen on 15 September, however the opening dates vary region to region.

For official information about the covid-19 situation in Italy see health ministry websitePhoto credit: Massimo Todaro / Shutterstock.com.