Swiss schools and Covid-19

Staying home because of a runny nose? 

With the onset of the cold season, should parents be concerned about sending their children to school with a runny nose?
In a recent article, the Swiss newspaper NZZ surveyed school rules in different cantons. 

As everything in Switzerland, advice and health practices may vary enormously depending on the canton. Once the summer is over for good, this uncertainty is likely to create a great deal of confusion among schools and parents alike. 

While a runny nose is not one of the typical Covid-19 symptoms, some cantons urge parents not to send children to school when showing signs of a common cold. 

In the past, most parents would not have hesitated to send their child to school with a minor cold. With Covid-19, things have changed. However, the rules are not always clear and can differ among cantons and even schools.

Different guidance in Swiss cantons

According to NZZ, a minor cold does not automatically lead to exclusion from class in most cantons. Some cantons, however, have very strict rules in place even though this is contravening recommendations by the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG).

In the canton of Zurich, educational authorities tell state schools that sick children or children showing signs of a full-blown cold are not allowed to attend school. According to BAG, a “simple runny nose” is not an acute respiratory infection and therefore not a compelling reason to stay at home. If symptoms get worse or children show other signs such as persistent cough,
a sore throat, chest pain or a fever, BAG guidelines advise isolation. However, the decision of whether a child can attend school is ultimately left to parents or school. 

In the French part, school authorities tend to be stricter: In Geneva, for example, children with a mild cold have to be kept at home. In Fribourg, teachers can ask parents to keep a child home with a cold and in Solothurn, rules differ among schools.

What about teachers?

Things might get even more complicated when several teachers develop a cold. As one school head states: ‚If we start banning teachers with a runny nose from the classroom, we will end up being seriously understaffed before long‘. 

Will Covid-19 disrupt once more classroom teaching in schools around Switzerland?  With the onset of the cold season, it won’t be long before we find out!

What is the situation like in your school? 

Read more on Swiss schooling here:

Leave a Comment