SwissInfo (Switzerland): Swiss students are returned after quarantine at their desks

After two months of quarantine in connection with the coronavirus Switzerland, under the gradual action of returning to a normal way of life again opened and compulsory primary and secondary schools.

“I’m so glad to be back in school, I’m done with distance learning!” says 7-year-old Emil from Geneva in an interview with the newspaper “Le Temps”. “During the time of isolation, I saw only one of his friends, I can’t wait to see all my classmates.” But not all students share his impatience. “I don’t want to go back to school. I really liked home insulation, because you can get up in the morning later and have their own school schedule. I even study was given easier,” says 10-year-old Nina from Fribourg in an interview with the same newspaper.

On may 11, 2020 all required middle and primary schools (for pupils age category up to 16 years) in Switzerland has reopened its doors. Recall that in Switzerland, the country with consistent federalism, for education the responsibility of the cantons (Federal States), so each of the 26 cantons the decision about how, when and in what part the children will return to school, was adopted separately and according to their own cantonal situation with coronavirus pandemic.

To school at a slow pace

Started in Canton in the morning! In Neuchatel parents personally led the children to the gate of the schools. About this French-speaking Swiss public non-state TV station RTS in detail told yesterday in his morning news report. It is to target schools, not the school itself — for adults the entrance to the building is prohibited. The kids gathered in the yard, where the teachers explained the new temporary rules of life: teachers no longer need to hug, greeting and shaking hands with them.

The first session began with learning half-forgotten rules of hygiene: children are again reminded of the proper way to wash hands, not forgetting to place the hands between the fingers. Teachers now in the classrooms wear a protective mask, last week they are preparing for classes, took out half the tables of the classes. Students will go to school at a time in two shifts, the number of classes is halved. All the remaining tables, chairs and toys teachers are thoroughly disinfected.

While most German-speaking cantons chose “almost back to normal”, which allows students to retain almost a normal school schedule in French-speaking Switzerland, as well as in densely populated and severely affected by the coronavirus Zurich and also in St. Gallen chose the step-by-step approach.

In practice, some schools entered the study in two shifts, others divided the class into two parts: the lessons will be only half of the class, the other half will be home-schooled. Then they swapped. Such sliding or alternating schedules of school lessons yet made with an eye on the next four weeks. Then a decision will be made about resuming a full class or not.

Italian-speaking Canton of Ticino, most affected by the coronavirus, also decided to introduce a system of classes is halved. The schools there have provided even an extra week of distance learning before re-opening. All cantons are required to comply with Federal regulations and quarantine requirements, developed by the Federal Office of health (BAG, unit of the interior Ministry of Switzerland).

Students are required to wash their hands, they can’t share a lunch, they should strictly observe the rules of social distancing (although, staying together in groups, children from the rules of distancing is exempt). Wearing masks will not be mandatory. Continue distance learning students — and teachers — at-risk and those living with family members for whom the risk is particularly high.

Parents nervous

Not all parents are satisfied with the start of classes and the selected formats ensure the safety of young wards of the schools. In the Canton of Zurich, for example, more than 7.5 thousand parents signed a petition calling for a speedy 100% return to full-time school, arguing that “parents will not be easy to arrange for children separate schedule, but still combining it somehow with my work.”

In several French-speaking cantons parents, by contrast, has launched a petition against the opening of schools, citing problems in healthcare and the fear of the second wave of coronavirus infection. The Canton of Basel-city has chosen his path, then calls for the phased return of students to school. Parents are contacted by the journalist of a portal of the Swiss broadcasting in 10 languages SWI also shared with him my “mixed feelings”.

“It looks like a huge jump from home schooling directly to a full face-to-face classes, and to do it you need just a few days,” commented one of the parents living in the Canton of Bern. His child would go to normal class schedules after only two days after graduation “staggered”. Social networks now run a trolling video on the topic of the Swiss send their children to school.

Another parent fears that the return of her daughter-a first year pupil in the school routine after weeks that girl was such a pleasure to spent at home can be a very complicated task. The concern of many parents caused by the fact that at the same time with schools on may 11, was to open many retail outlets and restaurants, accompanied by, of course, immediately encountered elevated (and actually normal) load on public transport.

Children as carriers of the virus?

Another reason for worry and doubt — the role that children play (or not play?) in the process of the spread of coronavirus. In Switzerland it is believed that children do not carry diseases, in particular, recently said Daniel Koch, a delegate (Commissioner) of the Federal Ministry of health, Switzerland (BAG) to combat coronavirus infection.

But a study conducted in Germany showed that adults and children play in the spread of the virus the same role. Now in Switzerland deals with this issue “national scientific working group COVID-19”, fully independent from the government authority. Her verdict: “it’s complicated”! The role of children and adolescents in the transmission of SARS-Cov-2 remains “highly uncertain,” so the scientists are now clear that nothing is clear.

For its part the teachers look forward to the opening of schools and the beginning of the live contacts with the students. On this portal SWI told Swendiman beat (Beat Schwendimann), member of the Board of “Swiss industry Federation of teachers” (Dachverband Lehrerinnen und Lehrer Schweiz LCH).

Of course, they have to change some things in terms of organization of academic work. “Regardless of their performance while training at home students will inevitably come into schools with different levels of knowledge. For teachers it will be important to maintain backward students,” explained us beat Swendiman in the email.

Analytical reports show that many sent home the students did not attend the online lessons and have no access to computers or were not able to build in remote learning to support parents. We already wrote about existing in Switzerland, concerns about the fact that any long-term distance education can increase already existing in Switzerland, the gap in school readiness between students from different social strata.

And this is one of the reasons pushing power as quickly as possible to open secondary compulsory school. “As for security measures, the school is now working on implementation of all existing cantonal and Federal regulations,” says beat Swendiman. “However, LCH would prefer a more coordinated, national approach to the organization of the process of re-opening schools.

The Swiss industry Federation of teachers is drawn to the authorities and to officials of the health sector to monitor closely the situation in schools after re-opening and, if necessary, amend procedures to ensure epidemiological safety”, concludes Boris Swendiman.

How are schools in Europe?

The first European country re-opened some schools, were Denmark, and then her example was followed by Norway. France also gradually opens its nursery and primary schools — and also since may 11. While their visit will be voluntary.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the German school will be open, but gradually (some students have returned to classes). In Austria, some students have returned to school 4 may, and the juniors will begin their training on 18 may, so by early June the party will again be all. Italy will open their school in September.