Covid: Italy's No Vax teachers return to the classroom

Masks to only be required for "at-risk" students.

Italy's schools have been issued with new covid guidelines by the education ministry as they prepare to reopen in September for the 2022-23 academic year, according to Italian news reports.

The covid vaccination obligation for teachers expires on 31 August along with other emergency restrictions for schools, meaning that unvaccinated teachers can 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.

Another major change included in the guidelines sent to schools, which take effect from 1 September 2022, is the dropping of the mask obligation for students and teachers, reports state broadcaster Rai News.

Masks will only be required for students deemed "at risk" and there will be no 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.

Antonello Giannelli, president of the National Association of Principals, told news agency Adnkronos that he was "not worried" about the number of unvaccinated teachers, which is "very low, they are just a few thousand".

Giannelli said however that he would put more emphasis on "the millions of students, especially between the ages of 5 and 15, who are not still vaccinated", adding that he hoped their families would take them to get the vaccine.

The education ministry does not exclude the re-introduction of restrictions, reports Rai News, but only in the event that new measures are adopted by health authorities in light of an "evolving epidemiological situation."

Most schools in Italy will reopen between 12 and 15 September, depending on the region.

Schools in the autonomous province of Bolzano will reopen on 5 September while schools in Sicily don't reopen until 19 September.

Photo credit: Massimo Todaro / Shutterstock.com.