COVID testing chaos in Swiss schools as thousands forced to isolate

COVID testing chaos in Swiss schools as thousands forced to isolate

The school system in Switzerland is facing a “testing crisis” as school boards in all cantons have been forced to shut down classes, sending thousands of students into quarantine.

No uniform COVID-19 protections for schools in Switzerland

Schools across Switzerland have forced classes to close and isolate as COVID cases begin to rise, leaving thousands of children learning from home. Most recently, the school board of Lenzburg, near Aarau, had to shut down three schools in the area for 10 days due to COVID-19, affecting 607 students.

The current testing and mask regime for schools differs by canton, with some taking a more "hands-off approach." Canton Zurich, for example, is yet to institute a mass testing regime or universal mask requirement, leading some schools to take their own measures, such as a school in Adlikon starting its own testing program. So far, the Swiss government has not mandated any specific testing regime, leaving it up to individual school boards, international schools, higher education institutions and universities to decide.

Swiss teachers call for national COVID strategy for schools

President Dagmar Rösler of the LCH, the union responsible for teachers, has said that it is a very difficult time, given that they can "never know which students will come to school or who will have to be quarantined and get given tasks for home.” Rösler claimed that schools were “really at the limit” of what they could do to combat the virus.

Thomas Minder, President of the Association of School Principles in Switzerland, said that mass testing should be used by all cantons as the situation evolves. Alongside the LCH he has asked for schools to be provided with CO2 measuring devices and air filters to help reduce transmission.

Many teaching unions have called on the cantonal and federal governments to begin a uniform plan to combat the rise in cases. Within this plan, they are asking for clarity in regard to mask-wearing, temperature testing, self-isolation and school closures. As President of the Zurich School Directors Association Sarah Knüsel put it, “this is the only way to guarantee a certain level of security for all those affected.” 

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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