Italy: School bells ring for first time in six months

First day of school in Italy for 5.6 million students.

Schools reopened in much of Italy on 14 September, for the first time since 4 March, in the early days of the covid-19 emergency.

This morning saw the return to class of around 5.6 million pupils (from a total of 8.3 million) in 13 of Italy's 20 regions, reports news agency Reuters.

Some schools welcomed their pupils back with balloons and banners; in others there was spontaneous applause for the children as they walked through the school gates for the first time in six months.

Students will find a very different school from what they left in March, with new single-use desks, masks, hand sanitiser, one-way systems and social distancing measures under the strict new rules in place to contain the spread of covid-19.

The reopening of Italy's schools has been a "priority" for the government of premier Giuseppe Conte who acknowledged on Facebook that there will be "difficulties, above all at the start," while thanking teachers and families for their "many sacrifices."

Italy's education minister Lucia Azzolina told state broadcaster RAI that the government's "prevention strategy will function if everyone plays their part with responsibility," adding the famous lockdown slogan "Andrà tutto bene" (Everything will be all right).

The school year will be launched officially later this afternoon by Italy's president Sergio Mattarella in Vo', a Veneto town that was one of Italy's first coronavirus hotspots, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

In the northern Alto Adige region schools reopened on 7 September, in Sardinia they reopen on 22 September, and in the southern region of Puglia the reopening date is 24 September.

Photo La Repubblica