Distance learning returns to some Zurich schools after COVID spike

Distance learning returns to some Zurich schools after COVID spike

Long after most COVID measures were dropped in Switzerland, schools in Zurich have been forced to switch back to distance learning, due to a spike in COVID cases and a lack of teachers. Some schools in the city have even had to employ emergency workers to cope with the high number of sick teachers.

Two Zurich schools send students home for online learning

Last week, Friedrichstrasse secondary school in Kreis 12 of Zurich had to send 130 students back home to distance learning, as too many teachers called in sick with COVID and replacements could not be found soon enough. The Tages-Anzeiger reported that COVID had paralysed the school and that many schools across the canton were experiencing similar issues.

On Monday, the Kügeliloo school in Zurich Oerlikon - one of the largest primary schools in the city - wrote in an email that "several teachers are absent every day because they are ill." The school then contacted the parents of three classes and asked them to look after their children at home.

Emergency substitutes employed in Swiss schools

“We are mainly busy finding substitutes,” said Antonella Albanese from the Kügeliloo school. She explained that even if classes are taught via the internet, if a child cannot be cared for at home, care will always be available at school.

Head of the elementary school office for Canton Zurich, Myriam Ziegler, said, "We receive up to five enquiries a week from schools that want to switch to distance learning for individual days due to COVID infections among students or teachers." Many schools are having to resort to so-called "emergency substitutes" to keep in-person learning - teachers that in some cases aren’t fully qualified or are still students at Swiss universities.

COVID cases in Zurich outpace the national average

Since the end of the most recent school holidays, the number of COVID cases in Zurich schools has risen sharply. Canton Zurich as a whole has outpaced national figures, with an average of 370 people per 100.000 testing positive for COVID in the last week.

Ziegler said that while the school authorities were monitoring the situation closely, no further measures are being planned for students. Instead, schools will maintain current COVID rules, which recommend mask-wearing and some online meetings.

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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