Italy, the first Covid-19 epicenter outside of China, has used an aggressive testing regime and face coverings to beat back a second wave of the pandemic so far. But as the nation’s children prepare to return to the classroom, many schools are taking matters into their own hands — by chopping up the furniture.
Social distancing is vital to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, but most Italian schools still use old-fashioned “banchi,” or benches, that seat multiple students to save space in their cramped classrooms. Single desks are rare, especially in the lower grade levels.
Italy’s Education Ministry put out a Europe-wide tender earlier in July for three million single-seat desks. A decision is expected on that soon — for delivery by September 8, so schools can assemble the new furniture by the time students return in the middle of the month.
But many districts are concerned the new desks won’t arrive in time, so they are preparing to take matters into their own hands by sawing up the old benches.