Covid-19: in Italy, back to school in confusion

“In dispersed order. ” It is one of the favorite titles of the Italian press at a time when nearly 7.5 million pupils of the Peninsula resume, Monday, January 10, the way to school after the Christmas holidays. It sums up both the complexity of the measures decreed by the government to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in schools, as well as the very mixed response from the regions. Thus, the President of Sicily, Nello Musumeci (right), has decided to postpone the return to school for three days, the time to assess the real health situation for the schools on the island. His Calabrian counterpart, Roberto Occhiuto (Forza Italia, moderate right), would have liked the return to school to be postponed for two weeks in the face of the increase in contamination, before finally complying with the timetable set by the government.

But it is above all in Campania that the most radical measure has been taken. Its governor, Vincenzo de Luca (Democratic Party, center left), on January 7, signed an order maintaining the closure of schools until January 29 throughout the region. In a long video posted on his Facebook account, De Luca explained, with a serious face, that Campania was, on his terms, “The region most at risk” of the country facing the Omicron wave. This Monday, the region will nevertheless remain white, according to the local typology, due to a lower incidence rate than in other regions (1,263 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last seven days to January 9 , against more than 1,700 cases on the national average) and pressure on the hospital which is still bearable, with an occupancy rate of intensive care beds of 11%.

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This ordinance gave rise to a showdown with the government. Asked Sunday evening about Rai 3, the Minister of Education, Patrizio Bianchi, denounced a “Bad and illegitimate choice”. A choice which provoked the anger of many parents of students who filed an appeal before the administrative court. The latter nevertheless validated, on Monday, the closure order. On the “Scuole Aperte Campania” Facebook account (“open schools in Campania”), families do not hide their distress and their difficulties in keeping their children at home. They also denounce the absurdity of this ordinance, while restaurants, cinemas and sports halls remain open.

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Known for his flowery language and hot temper – he had threatened to send the police to disperse “Flamethrower” the underground evenings during confinement in 2021 – Vincenzo de Luca is not at his first assault on Rome. On October 15, 2020, as Italy faced the second wave, Campania was the first region of the country to close its schools. Furious, then education minister Lucia Azzolina denounced a decision “Very serious”, arguing that the school “Was the safest place of all”.

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Covid-19: in Italy, back to school in confusion

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