Bell rings on new virus-era reality at Italy schools

Bell rings on new virus-era reality at Italy schools

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Rome (AFP)

Millions of Italian pupils head back to the classroom next week after six months at home, confronting a new reality of outdoor lessons, coronavirus “isolation rooms” and even a possible ban on singing.

While some in the north of the country already returned this week, the majority of Italy’s around eight million school pupils go back on Monday after the coronavirus shuttered classes in early March.

Italy was one of the first European countries to be hard hit by Covid-19, which has so far killed more than 35,500 people in the country, out of a total of more than 280,000 cases.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte vowed on Wednesday to make a safe return to school “a beacon of the government.”

“Thank you, you have paid the highest price in this crisis,” he said, addressing schoolchildren, during a televised news conference.

“Closing schools and distance learning have been a huge burden,” he added.

Italian Education Minister Lucia Azzolina said that more than 5,000 extra classrooms had been created.

Nevertheless, some southern regions like Puglia and Calabria have already postponed the reopening until September 24, over concerns about being ready to meet all the coronavirus requirements.

– ‘Covid room’ –

At Rome’s Luigi Einaudi technical high school, staff were hard at work this week to “covid-proof” the premises and…

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