Italy: half students in school, half at home

"Mixed teaching" proposal by Italy's education minister causes controversy among parents.

Italy's education minister Lucia Azzolina has proposed dividing school classes in half from September to reduce numbers in line with the social distancing measures required in the post-lockdown phase of the coronavirus emergency.

The minister's proposed solution involves "half of the students going to school for half a week", then alternating, with the half at home keeping up with their lessons through distance learning.

Azzolina, who announced the proposed measures on SkyTG24 on 2 May, said: "We can't bring students back to school with 28-30 people per class."

The minister also ruled out the possibility of teachers working double shifts, adding that students "have the right to return to school" in September.

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Azzolina's "mixed teaching" proposal generated a storm of controversy on social media, with parents querying how they were supposed to juggle work with childminding and supervising lessons on the days their children would be at home.

Schools have been closed since 5 March and are not due to reopen until September, with Italian premier Giuseppe Conte stating recently that the average age of Italy's teachers is among the highest in Europe.

Azzolina recently announced that the maturità school-leaving exams will start on 17 June in schools, in an oral format, reports Italian news agency ANSA.