By Marta Rullán
Rome, Sep 13 (EFE).- Four million students returned to Italy’s classrooms Monday after a year of online schooling due to the pandemic.
Stringent health and safety measures have been put in place for the occasion.
Parents and teachers must produce a health pass when entering school grounds while students have to take Covid-19 tests.
Italy’s return to school plans began in 10 regions. By next week, authorities hope roll it out to the rest of the country, a total of 8 million students spanning elementary to high school.
Masks are obligatory in class but it is the health pass requirement for parents that has proved most controversial.
Announced without warning on Friday, the move was criticized by school heads and those working on the digital pass system. Failure to produce a pass when required could result in a fine of up to 1,000 euros.
“I understand that it is necessary to extend the requirement to parents bringing their children to school, but this will create a huge problem (at the schools),” said Antonello Giannelli, head of the national association of head teachers, adding that he feared that crowds would form on school premises.
Andrea, a parent, was standing outside the gates of a school in Rome.
“I’m in favor of the vaccine, of testing, the health pass, the health of everyone, the kids and those of us around them.”
Rino, another parent, said he felt the health pass limited his freedom although added that he understood the necessity for teachers in public schools to be vaccinated.
The return to schools has been a priority for Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government, which has also banked on the digital health pass as being key to successfully reopening the country.
The measure is expected to be approved for all public sector workers this week.
Across the Adriatic, Greek school students returned to class amid fears of an impending spike in Covid-19 cases.
Officials also brought in new rules for non-vaccinated citizens, limiting their access to spaces such as restaurants and bars. EFE