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Zurich court backs pupil exclusions for refusing Covid-19 tests

Masked pupils sit behind a teacher s computer
The Zurich courts have rejected a legal challenge to exclusions for pupils who refuse Covid-19 tests. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Pupils can be excluded from school if they refuse to test for Covid-19, a Zurich court has ruled.

The legal challenge to exclusions, brought by the father of a school pupil, failed on appeal as the court ruled that the requirement to test was reasonable.

The argument that such spit tests are not carried out by a doctor was also thrown out. The Zurich administrative court said on Monday that pupils could opt to carry out such a test at a doctor’s surgery.

Many schools in Switzerland carry out mass testing of pupils, particularly after the emergence of the Omicron variant.

It has been legally established in Zurich that refusal to take a test means the pupil can be considered as infected with coronavirus and must quarantine for 10 days.

The court also ruled that a 10-day exclusion was not long enough to impair pupils’ education. The ruling, which applies to canton Zurich, could yet be appealed to a federal court, reports Swiss public broadcaster SRFExternal link.

Switzerland closed down schools for a few weeks in the spring of 2020, but unlike other countries, has since kept them open throughout further waves.

It is up to individual cantons to decide on whether to impose testing or mask-wearing obligations.

On Friday the government said that all upper secondary school pupils must wear a mask across the country while strongly recommending all cantons to insist on masks for younger pupils and to carry out testing.

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