The show must go on: Hard-hit Italy welcomes school pupils back to the classroom
Students require temperature tests as Europe addresses the need to continue children’s education
Students are returning to their classes in Italy as the country tries to open up after coronavirus lockdowns.
In an eerie pandemic world, children queued alongside exterior walls to have temperature tests before being allowed into classes.
In most of the country middle school students were due back on Thursday with high school pupils returning on Monday, although some regions have different arrangements.
Some schools are operating at 50 per cent capacity with others at 75 per cent.
Italy's prime minister urged members of his coalition government to stay united as the country grapples with a public health emergency and an economic crisis.
Guiseppe Conte said: "These are massive, very demanding challenges."
It was essential to "reinforce the cohesion of the majority and the solidity of the government team", he said.
Italy reported 548 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday and 649 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 20,331 from 15,378.
A total of 178,596 swab tests was carried out in the past 24 hours, the ministry said, up from the previous day’s total of 135,106.
Italy has registered 76,877 Covid-19 deaths since the outbreak began in the country on February 21, the highest toll in Europe and the fifth highest in the world. The country has reported 2.2 million cases to date, the health ministry said.
Patients currently in hospital with Covid-19 stood at 23,174 on Wednesday, when there were 183 admissions to intensive care units, compared with 202 on Tuesday.
Pupils in Germany are in distance-learning classes with school buildings closed until January 31 at the earliest.
Parents will receive an extra 10 days annual holiday to help them look after children, with an additional 20 days for single parents.
"We must be especially careful now. We are in a new and extraordinary situation," Chancellor Angela Merkel said as her government tightened regulations.
France has been struggling to get people vaccinated and to contain its outbreak, and is expected to announce new restrictions and tightened curfews.
Updated: January 7, 2021 05:24 PM