Italy’s schools reopening plan rejected

Conte calls for patience after school reopening guidelines rejected.

Italian premier Giuseppe Conte has appealed for "a little more time" after regional governments and Italy's association of principals rejected proposed guidelines for the reopening of the country's schools in September following the covid-19 lockdown.

Italy's education minister Lucia Azzolina has requested an additional €1 billion in funding after her ministry's guidelines were branded "unacceptable" by the conference of regional governments, led by Stefano Bonaccini, president of the Emilia-Romagna region, who presented a "counter-proposal" to the ministry on 25 June.

The national association of principals claims the guidelines fail to outline specific resources in relation to the required increase in space and recruitment of new teachers, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Teachers also expressed concerns about the so-called "mixed teaching" proposal, which would see half the students taught in school and the other half taught remotely, and highlighted the absence of specific indications for kindergarten children aged from 0 to three years.

The principals also say the guidelines fail to provide clear instructions on how to ensure students' desks are at least one metre apart, as well as complaining that funding had yet to be allocated for the required changes, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

"The school is a pillar of our social system," Conte told reporters on 25 June - "They are our children, our future, so it's normal for there to be lots of attention, lots of concern."

Appealing for patience, the prime minister promised that the government is "working every day to make it possible to return to school in September in safety."

Some of the key points contained in the ministry's guidelines include schools staggering attendance for classes and canteens, opening on Saturdays, splitting classes into learning groups and recommending that children over the age of six wear facemasks, reports ANSA.

The rejection of the guidelines came the same day that parents, students and teachers took to the streets in more than 60 cities across Italy to protest the lack of clarity regarding the reopening of schools.