After the 6 August had been published in the Official Gazette the Decree Law containing “urgent measures for the safe exercise of school, university, social and transport activities”, the Ministry of Education has made public three measures aimed at ensuring the reopening of schools in attendance in the coming days. They are the school plan 2021-2022, the Memorandum of Understanding with the Trade Unions of August 14 and the interministerial decree of August 16, on the distribution of funds to schools. Let’s see the contents one by one on August 6, Decree Law 111/21 was published in the Official Gazette, containing urgent measures for the safe exercise of school, university, social and transport activities. Subsequently, the Ministry of Education issued three measures aimed at ensuring the reopening of schools in attendance in the coming days. This is exactly the school plan 2021-2022 (Ministerial Decree 257/21, the Memorandum of Understanding with Trade Unions of 14 August and the interministerial decree 265/21 of 16 August, on the distribution of funds to schools. Let’s see the contents one by one.
The school plan 2021-2022 provides for teaching in the presence listing the different concrete actions to be carried out in schools by virtue of school autonomy and updating the rules provided for last year. For example, in the so-called” White zones ” educational and educational visits can be resumed in compliance with all prevention and safety regulations.
Here stands the paragraph on page 13 of the Plan, on Disability and inclusion, which are worth bringing back in full: “Is a key priority to ensure, by taking all the organizational measures possible in agreement with the families and Associations for people with disabilities, the daily presence at the school for pupils with special educational needs, in particular those with disabilities, in the true and inclusive size inclusive. For some disabilities may be necessary to seek “reasonable accommodation”, consistent with the following signs of CTS [Territorial Center of Support, N. d.R.]: “In accordance with the guidelines on distancing the physical, the management of pupils with disabilities in a certified must be planned in reference to the number, type of disability, to the professional resources that are specifically dedicated, giving priority to the teaching presence. Students with forms of disability that are not compatible with the continued use of the mask are not subject to the obligation to use the mask. For the assistance of students with certified disabilities, it is not always possible to guarantee the physical distance from the student, it may be provided for the staff to use additional devices”.
It also confirmed (article 58, paragraph 1, letter d) of the Decree Law 73/21, the so-called “Decree Supports Bis”), converted with amendments into Law 106/21), the attention given to “the needs of students with serious diseases or immunosuppression, in possession of the certificates issued by the competent health authority, such as to enable them to follow the school curriculum using appropriate teaching at a distance”.
Remains for ever more possible for the pupils and the pupils fragile” (as defined in article 2 of the Ministerial order 134/20), the possibility of education in the home: “Even with regard to home education – is the law, in fact, in the Plan, the School, the School Manager will take care of agreeing with the family, the mode of teaching, with particular reference to the indications given by the attending physician on the aspects that characterize the health picture of the student.”
It is important to highlight how the “essential priority of the daily presence at school” of pupils with disabilities is reiterated, also emphasizing “in the true and participatory inclusive dimension”, which therefore involves the presence of classmates. It is therefore hoped that, on the basis of the experience of the past two years, home care will also be provided through autonomy and communication assistants, to pupils with disabilities who for health reasons have to carry out Distance Education. This is so as not to burden family members, who could not for example work, to be able to follow their children in this type of activity from home.
As for the memorandum of Understanding with the trade Unions of the 14th of August, in the sphere of the general regulation on emergency, including that on mandatory vaccination of school personnel, provided for in article 1, paragraph 6 of the above-mentioned Decree-Law 111/21, among the numerous requirements shared in the Agreement, are to be identified:
° National ministerial table and regional tables with the participation of Trade Unions.
° Support the vaccination campaign of students from the age of 12.
° Appointment of a Covid referent per school.
° Possibility to make swabs to school staff.
° Supply of disposable masks (also transparent for pupils with disabilities) and disinfectant gel.
° Preferential lane for vaccination of school personnel.
° Identification of a competent doctor in each school for health surveillance.
° Prescription of a meter of distance between the pupils and of two meters between the chair and benches.
° Continuous airing of school premises.
° Psychological and pedagogical-educational support for teachers and students.
° Management of symptomatic people within the school.
° Possibility of establishing a monitoring committee in each school on the implementation of the measures provided for in the agreement.
At the time of writing, it should be noted here, it remains to clarify the possible vaccination obligation for non-school personnel, but operating in schools, such as assistants for autonomy and communication for pupils with disabilities and staff in school canteens.
As regards, finally, the allocation of funds to schools, the above-mentioned Ministerial Decree 265/21 defines the state schools of the 350 million euro allocated by article 58, paragraph 4 of the aforementioned Decree-Law 73/21 (“Supports Bis”). These are funds intended for the purchase of goods and services, with the aim of containing the epidemiological risk in relation to the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
The criteria for the division of these funds between schools are provided, as follows, by Article 1, Paragraph 1 of Ministerial Decree 834/15: “typology of the educational institution. Numerical consistency of pupils. Number of pupils with disabilities [sic!]. Number of plexuses and places in which the school is articulated beyond the main headquarters. Number of terminal classes’.
The decree itself explicitly provides that part of these funds must be used to guarantee free swabs to fragile school personnel who cannot be vaccinated for certified health reasons (circular of the Ministry of health protocol no. 35309/21).
However, it should be emphasized in conclusion that given the will of some teachers not to vaccinate, but also not to lose their salary (as provided for by the aforementioned Decree Law 111/21), it will be necessary to provide funds for the appointment of alternates for all cases of Leave announced by no-vax teachers.