A study on
Sunday revealed that Switzerland’s decision of closing schools proved
as one of the most efficient way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 along with
less movement of people. Researchers from the Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology in Zurich, ETH, mentioned that the shutdown of Swiss
schools in March 2020 became the reason for reducing mobility by more
than a fifth.

“School closures reduced mobility by 21.6%,” Stefan
Feuerriegel, an ETH professor of management information systems who headed the
study, told AFP in an email. He added, “School closures reduce mobility,
(which) then reduces new cases of COVID-19.”

The professor and his team researched around 1.5 billion movements in
Swiss telecommunication data from February 10 till April 26 last year to examine
the effect on mobility as various anti-COVID measures were introduced.

Before a
country-wide partial lockdown that included schools closure, the 26 cantons of
the country initiated COVID-19 measures at different levels in a decentralised manner
on March 16 last year. Schools remained closed throughout the country for around
two months and eventually started opening up again.

Also read: Swiss woman dies after getting COVID-19 vaccine, connection between two ‘highly unlikely’

The recent
study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, found that school shutdown was on
third number ranking which contributed in reducing the movement of people.

Ban on
gatherings of more than five people, that had seen cutting mobility by 24.9% topped the ranking while the closure of restaurants, bars and
non-essential shops, remained on second rank that caused people to move about
22.3% less, shows the study.

Feuerriegel said it was not surprising that school closures had such a
big impact on people’s movements. “If schools are closed, we can expect a
large change in behaviour,” he added, pointing out that “not only
will kids stay home, but sometimes it also requires their parents to change
their mobility as well.”

However, this measure have been among the most controversial measures initiated
across the world to help rein in the pandemic.