Epidemiologist Marcel Tanner calls for the closure of high schools





© KEYSTONE/GAETAN BALLY


Testing for the coronavirus should be increased in elementary schools due to the appearance of the much more contagious variants. And older students should take distance education.

These measures are requested by the epidemiologist Marcel Tanner, member of the Confederation’s Covid-19 Scientific Task Force. So far, there has been virtually no major outbreak of the virus in schools, acknowledges Tanner in an interview with the “Sonntagszeitung”. And we still do not know with certainty the extent of transmission from schools to society or vice versa.

However, it is certain that young people are infected in the same way as adults. A new study from Geneva shows that even young children have about the same infection rate as adults in their environment.

“This is a very important finding. It shows that while transmission is high in general, children are not exempt because they seem to contract the virus mainly in the family.”

With the situation of the mutated virus, it is therefore imperative to reconsider the screening strategy, says Tanner: “We increasingly have to test entire classes or even schools when cases arise”. There are now very simple saliva tests: “The cantons could use these possibilities in primary schools”.

Face-to-face primary education

For now, Tanner does not recommend closing primary schools: “There is a right to education. A restaurant can be compensated for its losses, but when the education of children and youth suffers from a deficit and its long-term social consequences, it is impossible “.

For this reason, training at the primary level should be provided by face-to-face classes, according to the expert. If the number of cases of the mutated virus increases as much as in England, the question will have to be reconsidered.

For high school and vocational students, Mr. Tanner calls on the other hand for a return to distance education as soon as possible: “Any other solution would be false from a scientific point of view. Unlike primary school students, High school students, for example, take public transport or go to shops during their lunch break. However, it is currently very important to reduce contact and therefore mobility “.

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