Can Swiss cantons force you to send your child to school despite quarantine?

Can Swiss cantons force you to send your child to school despite quarantine?
Parents of kids who miss school in St. Gallen may have to pay a fine. Photo: AFP
In one Swiss canton, parents could get fined if their children can't return to school because they have been on vacation in a country that Switzerland considers to be at risk of coronavirus.

People who decide to vacation in a country deemed at risk must quarantine themselves for 10 days upon returning to Switzerland.

But St. Gallen parents whose children miss school because of the quarantine could face a fine of up to 1,000 francs. 

According to the canton's elementary school law, schools can charge at least 200 francs for each missed half-day of classes. The maximum fine is 1,000 francs.

What about other Swiss regions?

The Blick newspaper examined the rules of the individual cantons to find out how they would handle a similar situation.

Most cantons said they would not impose a fine.

Vaud authorities, for example, fear that such a punishment would be counterproductive.

“Sanctions could encourage parents to hide the fact that they travelled to an at-risk country, so as not to comply with the quarantine requirement,” said Julien Schekter, communications manager for the Vaud's education department.

This stance is echoed by officials in Zurich, who are concerned that a sanction could result in the spread of the virus in schools, as parents would not keep their children in quarantine.

READ MORE: Covid-19: Is Switzerland's 10-day quarantine really long enough?

The vast majority of schools surveyed by The Blick consider a student's quarantine to be a justified excused absence. This is particularly the case in Bern, Zurich, Aargau, Thurgau and Graubünden.

In Basel-City, on the other hand, an absence due to quarantine will be considered as not justified. 

Switzerland put in place a 10-day quarantine for all arrivals from countries that it considers to be 'at risk' – that is, those where the rate of coronavirus infections is high.

These countries are Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Chile, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Iraq, Israel, Qatar, Colombia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Moldova, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Serbia, South Africa, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States.


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