Speaking with The PIE News, the association’s president, Wolfango Poggi, explained that although associated schools had seen cancellations from both school groups and individuals, language providers are doing their utmost to support students.

“All our school centres are open for business and are working”

“All our school centres are open for business and are working regularly,” he explained, adding that the country remains safe.

The global media’s portrayal of Italy during the coronavirus has caused issues for schools seeking to teach Italian to visiting students from around the world, Poggi added.

“Our country is absolutely safe and…because of the mass media’s terrible way of communication, our market will be affected for several weeks, maybe including summertime and longer,” he said.

The whole of the Italian language industry has been affected, he noted, with some schools suspending education program between February 24-29.

“Some students have cancelled or postponed their trips especially in our schools in Northern Italy,” Poggi told The PIE.

US universities have started repatriating students from some areas of Italy, he noted. Other programs beyond Italy have also been suspended.

“Until now there are no official restrictions imposed by our government. Borders are open, flights, trains and buses are operating as usual except direct flights from and to China,” he continued.

Like other education providers, Italian language schools are running or planning to introduce online classes to “give students the opportunity not to miss classes”.

One school – Istituto Dante Alighieri Milano – said students were “gladly accepting” Skype lessons it has proposed.

Support from institutions is now needed “more than ever”, Poggi stressed, adding that the loss of bookings and cancellations are “a huge issue”.

“Our industry needs support from our institutions, now more than ever. We represent a relevant part not only of the economic income but, above all, of the cultural exchanges of the country,” he said.

“Italy is always a destination that students long to visit. We want to reassure everyone that, also under these circumstances, Italy remains an absolutely safe place, as is our schools.”

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