Coronavirus: Basel to consider school closures from Monday

Coronavirus: Basel to consider school closures from Monday
Basel University Hospital. Image: By Taxiarchos228, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Authorities in Basel are set to meet this week to discuss the possibility of closing schools when the current holiday period ends on March 6th. Schools in other parts of the country have however pledged to remain open.

Basel’s schools – currently on school holidays – are set to reopen on March 9th, however education authorities are considering whether they should be re-opened at all due to coronavirus concerns. 

School holiday periods differ from canton to canton, while the decision on closing schools will be up to cantonal authorities. 

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In Switzerland's southern neighbour Italy, where the outbreak has been the most severe of anywhere in Europe, a similar decision will be made in the coming days on whether to close schools.

Will Basel’s schools reopen on Monday?

The education department in the canton of Basel Country said it will meet on Thursday to discuss whether or not schools should be reopened. The responsible authorities for Basel City will also meet “sometime this week” to discuss the matter. 

As reported in Swiss daily Watson, any decision on whether to close schools would take into account both public health concerns as well as the potential impacts for parents who would need to find alternative means of caring for their children. 

Avoiding school closures where possible

The policy across Switzerland is to avoid shutting schools where possible, saying that closures, generally speaking, do more harm than good. As reported in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, this is not only the policy of the federal government but of all 26 cantons. 

READ: Two Swiss high school classes quarantined over coronavirus

Instead, schools have sought to emphasise the importance of hygiene. The Zurich Directorate of Education has printed a leaflet which is available in six languages on how to wash hands effectively and other measures that can curb the spread of the virus. 

Some school authorities have been asked by parents whether students live at home with grandparents or people with autoimmune conditions should continue to attend, however they have reiterated that this is an individual matter which should be discussed with doctors. 

Children are not at a particular risk

Authorities have been careful to reiterate that although all necessary measures should be taken to prevent the spread, the evidence as yet is that children are not at a particularly risk of catching the virus – unlike older people and the unwell. 

Therefore, precautions relating to schools have been mild compared to those for retirement homes. 


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