More than five million students across Italy returned to schools for in-person classes, after months of distant learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Announced by the central government on March 26, the reopening on Wednesday concerned all nursery and primary students up to the sixth grade, including those in the nine regions currently classified as high-risk red zone due to their high level of pandemic risk, reports Xinhua news agency.
Most Italian schools had been closed nationwide since March 15, as the country implemented a new round of severe restrictions ahead of Easter to slow down a third pandemic wave.
Since last year however, face-to-face school learning has faced frequent and longer interruptions here compared to other major European countries.
This sparked a protest from large numbers of students and parents, and of some teachers as well, who took to the streets in dozens of Italian cities in late March asking to go back to the classroom.
Partially to address their requests, and in a change from previous school closures, Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s cabinet this time ruled that regional governors will no longer be allowed to eventually impose further shutdown at a local level.
The only exception would be represented by “cases of extraordinary necessity” due to outbreaks or to an extremely high risk of the virus spreading, and, even in such cases, only in agreement with health authorities.