Schools in Italy will reopen on September 14 with social distancing measures in place, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Education Minister Lucia Azzolina announced Friday.
According to the government’s announcement, schools will be required to stagger morning arrivals and seat students one meter apart from each other. Meals must also be eaten in classrooms, rather than in school cafeterias.
“These guidelines will allow us to send back to school our daughters and sons in maximum safety,” Conte said during a press conference.
Italy’s Education Minister conceded that there are “some issues” regarding the lack of space within school buildings to accommodate all students under socially distanced conditions, cautioning that some 15% of students would be affected by the lack of space.
While home-schooling will only be permissible for older students, the government says it will make use of decommissioned schools and encourage more outdoor activities, including field trips, to tackle the lack of available space for other grades.
“Let the students breathe culture…why not? Take the smaller children to parks when the weather allows it and let them be close to nature,” Azzolina said.
In order to prepare for the safe resumption of classes in September, Prime Minister Conte said the government would invest an extra 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) to renovate schools, procure protective sanitation products and provide training to educators.
“This money is not aimed only to face the coronavirus. We dream of a different school, a school where finally money is invested to improve it,” Italy’s Education Minister said.
“Kindergarten and primary school children have suffered the most during the lockdown…and also the disabled. They are the ones who have suffered most, and they are the ones to whom schools will need to give a stronger answer in September,” she added.