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Reader question: When do children in Switzerland go back to school?

The Local Switzerland
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Reader question: When do children in Switzerland go back to school?
Children in the classroom. Photo by Arthur Krijgsman on Pexels

The summer vacation is almost over for schoolchildren in Switzerland. Depending on where in the country they live, school has already started or will begin soon.


Just as neighbours Italy and France are in the midst of their summer holidays, Swiss schoolchildren will begin their annual trudge back to school beginning from Monday.

In fact, on August 15th, which marks Italy’s sacred ‘Ferragosto’, when virtually the entire country shuts down for the holidays, kids in 13 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons will be already back in class.

The exact ‘back to school’ dates are determined by each canton; some have shorter academic years (and longer summer vacations) than others, and vice-versa.

For instance, Ticino children are the luckiest in Switzerland in terms of the length of summer holidays: from June 16th to August 28th.

Shortest holidays, on the other hand, are in canton Aargau, where kids are off only from July 18th to August 5th.


This is an overview of ‘back-to-school’ schedule for some cantons (last dates of holidays):

  • Basel-City: August 13th
  • Basel-Country: August 14th
  • Bern: August 19th
  • Geneva: August 21s
  • Vaud: August 21
  • Zurich: August 20th

Other cantons’ school schedule is listed here.

READ MORE: Why teachers in Swiss schools are worried about falling education standards

De-centralised system

If you are wondering why the length of summer holidays in Switzerland varies so widely, it is that, although they are mandated to last between four and eight weeks, individual cantons are responsible for determining their duration.

The reason for this disparity is that while the federal government — and specifically the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) — is charged with overseeing Switzerland’s education system, each canton sets its own public-school calendar, curricula, and other educational criteria.

Why are summer holidays for schoolchildren in Switzerland shorter than in many other countries?

It may seem that Swiss kids are disadvantaged in comparison to their French and Italian counterparts when it comes to the time they get off from school in the summer.

However, they also typically get several more weeks off , which are spread throughout the year: one to two weeks (depending on the canton) in the autumn, over Easter and Christmas, and in February.

The next school holidays are two weeks in October.


Are there any Covid-related requirements in place at schools?

There are currently no mask requirements in public places in Switzerland, including in schools.

However, that could change if the epidemiological situation in the country worsens, as some health experts are forecasting for fall and winter.

READ MORE: Geneva’s private universities charge high fees for unrecognised diplomas, probe reveals



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