Alberto Di Majo
After three months of closure, with the video lessons left to the teachers’ volunteering and the inevitable overwork for parents already engaged in smart working, the politicians realize that school is fundamental and must also reopen in Italy. And if in other European countries the lockdown was used to renovate or expand buildings, to reorganize classes and to allow students to return to lessons for at least the last weeks of the school year, Italy has lagged behind, much ‘is that the only ones who will be able to enter the institutes will be, from June 17, the youngsters grappling with the oral test (the only one) of high school.
But something is moving. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has convened a meeting with education minister Lucia Azzolina, representatives of local authorities and unions for June 4th. We will take stock of September. The goal is for students to be able to return to institutions. The members of the technical committee who support Viale Trastevere stressed the need to make classes with fewer students, perhaps taking some lessons in open spaces (gardens or courtyards of the structures). For its part, the ministry has allocated funds which, however, will only cover small interventions. So, to date, nobody knows if schools will reopen in September.
Yet everyone has come back to emphasize the centrality of teaching. The mayor of Turin Chiara Appendino began, who, during the celebration for the Republic Day, explained: «I don’t know if enough has been said in recent months. However, I know for sure that the school – and with it our children and the teachers who provide for their training – suffered a severe blow due to the coronavirus emergency. When a pupil loses the opportunity to learn, to improve, the whole community is losing with him. Our future is there and our hopes are there. From our young people, from their formation, everything that we will be tomorrow passes. For this reason the contingencies of today must never have the power to cloud the needs of tomorrow “, an appeal, that of the mayor, because” there is the maximum commitment by all and everyone to preserve and invest in school, as pillar of our Republic. The right to education is at the basis of everything we celebrate here today “, And he concluded quoting Piero Calamandrei:” If you want democracy to be done first and then to be maintained and perfected, you can say that school for a long time going is more important than Parliament and the Judiciary and the Constitutional Court “,
In an interview with Rai Parliament, the President of the Chamber Roberto Fico recalled: «Today a big thank you goes to all the health workers. After thanksgiving, however, there are important actions to be put in place, especially on two fronts, which for me strongly represent our Constitution: the public school front and the public health front. This is where you have to invest, that’s where there can be a restart, that’s where we have to rebuild our country ».
For its part, the Minister of Education, Lucia Azzolina, assured, interviewed by the Republic: “We are doing everything possible to bring everyone, children and young people, to school in attendance”. Goodbye to distance learning for adults too? “It’s my goal. Obviously the national territory is very different, there are more than 8 thousand school autonomies and 40 thousand buildings – he explains -. We will give a frame, guidelines and a package of tools. Each school will then have to decide how to restart the year “. Then the announcement: «Thursday there will be a table at Palazzo Chigi, with Prime Minister Conte, with my ministry, local authorities, a representative of the families, one of the students, then peer schools, unions, disabled people. All together we will contribute to finding the answers because we are talking about measures that concern 30 million Italians ». La Azzolina warned: local authorities can help “by making available municipal halls, botanical gardens, parks, theaters, cinemas. We will make agreements with them and with the third sector to make sure that the school starts again by opening up to the territory. When spacing is not possible, we will take students out. In other European countries it is already being done ». As for the thermal scanners at school entrances, “the technical-scientific committee has already said that there is no need. We must empower families. And to say that you don’t even go to school with 37 and a half fever ». And the masks? “Experts have recommended the obligation. Transparent visors are also fine, to see children’s expressions, I think of the little ones, the important thing is that they have a protective device “.
In short, after three months we begin to discuss how to restart the school. Although the principals have already expressed strong criticism of Azzolina’s plan (without sufficient funds). Pure Italia Viva had protested: 38 thousand euros for each institution are very few, stressed the deputy Michele Anzaldi yesterday. Trade unions also make themselves heard. Anief, who proclaimed the state of agitation of the staff, recalls that – as indicated in the document produced by the Technical-scientific Committee delivered to the same Ministry of Education – the return to class in presence, without distance learning, concerns 42,258 classes in the state childhood, to which must be added about 28,000 parity or municipal, another 128,143 primary classes, plus about 9 thousand non-state, 77,976 placed in high schools, to which to add over 3 thousand classes relating to parity. Based on these numbers, the Ministry of Education is now responsible for finding ways to follow up on what was communicated a few days ago by the task force, chaired by Professor Patrizio Bianchi, who indicated the need to carry out teaching in attendance up to secondary of first degree included, because “kindergarten, elementary and middle school children must be able to be in a social context”. Marcello Pacifico, national president of Anief, looks at the measures introduced in other EU countries for returning to school in presence and says he is worried about a possible continuation of distance teaching due to the digital divide: «We must immediately finance a staff increased by at least 160 thousand teachers and 40 thousand Ata, which correspond to 15 thousand additional teachers and 5 thousand Ata, indispensable for strengthen cleaning, controls and secretariats, to be assigned to institutions for each school year, starting from the first of infancy to the third of middle school. Without this human support, any infection prevention protocol would be impractical. ” Not only. «The additional reception rooms for the excess classes that will be formed, also in conditions of hygiene and safety, must be identified immediately. Overall, a loan that cannot go below 7-8 billion euros is needed, therefore 6 are missing compared to what has been allocated so far ».