Infection control for nurseries regarding coronavirus / COVID-19

This page includes information on:

  • Symptoms
  • Safe working  
  • Testing for early years staff and children
  • Vaccinations
  • Quarantine and entering the UK
  • COVID-19 apps
  • NHS Test and Trace - England
  • Test, Trace, Protect - Wales
  • Test and Protect - Scotland
  • PPE for nurseries  
  • Social distancing at nursery  
  • What are the rules for self-isolating?
  • What to do if you have a confirmed case in your setting
  • What to do if you have a suspected case in your setting
  • What to do if a child is otherwise ill or has had immunisations causing illness
  • What to do to clean the nursery afterwards
  • How to prevent the spread of the virus
  • Do you need to close your nursery if a child/staff are confirmed as contracting COVID-19?
  • Working with special needs children who spit and protecting yourself
  • RIDDOR report
  • Parent and carer visits (England and Wales)
  • Wales - ventilation


The main symptoms of coronavirus / COVID-19 are:

  • A high temperature
  • A new continuous cough
  • A loss or a change to sense of smell or taste. 

Find out more about symptoms on the NHS website here.

We have previously shared with members in Wales the position statement from the Health Protection team in Wales regarding the testing for those with wider symptoms, if you would like a copy please e-mail

Health Boards in Wales are making testing available for those who are experiencing a wider range of symptoms such as fatigue, myalgia (muscle ache or pain), a sore throat, a headache, a runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea as well as the 3 main symptoms.

Individuals who take a test because of these other wider symptoms are not required to isolate while they await their test result. 

This includes children who can continue to attend childcare settings while they await a test result (however, children and adults with diarrhoea and or vomiting should remain off work and not attend childcare settings until they are symptom free for 48 hours even if their Covid-19 test is negative).

If individuals then receive a positive Covid-19 result, they and their household must then isolate. Households must also isolate if anyone develops any of the 3 cardinal Covid-19 symptoms while waiting for a test result taken on wider symptoms to come back.

Safe working

Protect your nursery in-house against coronavirus / COVID-19 with Edge Protect's fogging decontamination. Bundles include a fogger, outdoor pressure pump and TriGuard in a variety of volumes. The bundles come in two sizes (small and medium) that are suited to your nursery depending on the size and amount of product you will use per day in your nursery. Members can find out about an exclusive discount with Edge Protect here. 

See what childcare services, early years settings, childminders and local authorities in England need to provide during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in 'Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak' here. 

From step four the control measures for providers are that you should:

1. Ensure good hygiene for everyone 
2. Maintain appropriate cleaning regimes, using standard products such as detergents
3. Keep occupied spaces well ventilated 
4. Follow public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Children in early years settings do not need to wear a face covering.

Face coverings will no longer be recommended for staff and visitors in corridors or communal areas.


Settings should be following the new guidance issued on 5 July.

Read up to date guidance on infection control measures here.

See 'Protective measures in childcare settings: keep childcare safe' guidance here.  

See guidance on contact tracing in education and childcare settings. 
See Welsh Government videos for parents:

See the face coverings: guidance for public here. 

See the Keep Wales safe at work workplace guidance here. As part of this guidance a poster has been developed for you to put up in your setting to show that you have taken the steps above and complied with the Welsh Governments guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19.  
Further Welsh Government guidance on your responsibilities as an employer can be found here.

Testing for early years staff and children

Staff in England
Everyone in England is able to access twice weekly rapid tests for coronavirus. There is no change to the current arrangements for nursery staff who should continue to collect their home testing kits from nursery and continue to report their results online. Twice weekly testing should continue throughout term time and the holidays.

Ordering LFD Test Kits  

Place ongoing re-orders for test kits via an online ordering system, which can be accessed at the following link.

You can find guidance on how to place an order on the DfE’s document sharing platform.

The DfE have asked that you consider your current stock level and your testing demands before placing any order, to ensure that the order you place meets your testing needs.  

If there are any issues with delivery such as missing or damaged items you can report them via this online form, you will need your Ofsted URN to start the process.
The DfE has issued a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions which you can download from here.

If you are likely to run out of test kits before your expected delivery date, contact the helpline on 0800 046 8687 and ask for your order to be brought forward.

How often should nursery staff take a test?
Staff should take the test twice weekly at home 3-4 days apart. If staff work part-time or have irregular attendance, they should still take a test twice weekly. Peripatetic staff should choose one nursery from where they will collect their home test kits.

It is recommended that staff test in the morning before attending their setting (so there is less chance of infection between taking the test and attending the setting). However, you may choose to do the testing the evening before if more convenient.

What happens if a staff member's lateral flow test result is positive?
A positive LFD test will need a confirmatory PCR test whether done at home or in a setting. Staff with a positive LFD test result should self-isolate in line with national guidance unless the confirmatory PCR test comes back negative. See stay-at-home guidance. They should report their results to NHS Test and Trace as soon as the test is complete, as set out in the test kit instructions and self-report page

They should also inform their nursery of their result to identify close contacts and make appropriate cover arrangements. They must book a confirmatory PCR test online, then continue to isolate as per the stay-at-home guidance if the PCR test result is positive. The staff member should also inform their nursery of a positive PCR result.

NHS Test and Trace will contact those people who have been in close contact with the person who has tested positive.

If you have a negative PCR test following a positive LFD test, you and your household can stop isolating as per the NHS stay-at-home guidance.

Children in England:
All children are eligible for testing if they display symptoms of possible coronavirus: high temperature, a dry cough and a loss of taste or smell. 

Staff in Scotland
The Scottish Government has made twice weekly rapid testing available for everyone who would liketo access them.

Lateral Flow Device Testing - Objective Connect
If you have any concerns about delivery schedules or experience any issues with deliveries, you should contact the NHS National Services Scotland helpline on: 0800 008 6587 or send an e-mail to 

Children in Scotland
In Scotland parents and carers can apply for a test through the Test and Protect Program for children under five when they show symptoms of COVID-19. The test will be undertaken by the child’s parent/carer. If a child tests positive then the Test and Protect procedure for isolation will come in play.

Staff in Wales
In Wales, the testing capacity has been increased to support contact tracing and home tests and tests at the drive-through centres for both critical workers and the public can be booked onlineYou can apply for a test for yourself or someone in your household with symptoms. This includes adults and children, including under 5s. You are also able to apply for a test by calling the free number 119 between the hours of 7am to 11pm. People with hearing or speech difficulties can call 18001 119.
All registered childcare and play settings will be offered twice-weekly routine testing, guidance has been developed to provide additional support and information. All guidance is available on the Online Document Platform which holds the latest documents and guides, as well as additional resources regarding this testing offer. 

Ordering tests in Wales
The Salesforce system allows settings to manage their own deliveries so that they may order the correct amount of tests in a timely way. 
Settings should have received an e-mail from Salesforce, which contains your Unique Organisation Number (UON). If you have not received an e-mail you are also able to view your UON  via the Education and Childcare UONs document on the Asset bank . The Salesforce Guidance, also available on the Asset bank outlines the ‘ordering Journey for Education and Childcare Settings’.

Access to PCR Testing
Anyone with symptoms can get a COVID-19 test, whatever their age. Education and childcare workers are priorities in the self-referral testing system as key workers.

We are strongly encouraging members to ensure testing is done by yourselves and your teams. The purpose of LFD testing is to keep you, your staff, children and families safe so that you can execute your safeguarding duty and secure your sustainability. It is absolutely crucial to follow the Welsh Government guidance on testing. Local Authorities may have funding available to support settings which have to partially or fully close as a result of COVID-19, contact our Regional Development Manager Sarah Warburton for further information: 

See guidance on asymptomatic testing in Wales here.

Testing has been expanded so that those who are close contacts of people who have tested positive for coronavirus will also be offered tests.

The protective measures in childcare settings guidance has been updated to include information about testing that is being made available in some areas for those experiencing a wider range of symptoms such as fatigue, myalgia (muscle ache or pain), a sore throat, a headache, a runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea. Individuals who take a test because of these other wider symptoms are not required to isolate while they await their test result. This includes children who can continue to attend their childcare setting while they await a test result (children and adults with diarrhoea and/or vomiting should not attend the setting until they are symptom-free for 48 hours, even if their test result is negative). However people who are experiencing one or more of the three cardinal COVID-19 symptoms (new persistent cough, fever and/or loss of taste or smell) must continue to follow the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect guidance on testing and isolation and are required to self-isolate with their household whilst they await a test result.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

Can you impose mandatory testing and vaccination on employees?
While it's tempting to take a simplistic view on this, it's actually a very complex area of law. Citation’s HR & Employment Law experts have put together the most common questions they are hearing from business owners in this exclusive Q&A, to help you stay on the right side of your legal obligations and keep your staff safe.

England - singing and trips out
There are now no limits on the number of people who can sing indoors or outdoors. Some activities, however, can increase the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19. eg where people are doing activities which generate more droplets as they breathe heavily, such as singing, dancing, exercising or raising their voices. The risk is greatest where these factors overlap, for example in crowded indoor spaces where people are raising their voices. In situations where there is a higher risk of catching or passing on COVID-19, you should be particularly careful to follow the guidance on keeping yourself and others safe.

Where activities are taking place indoors and include extra visitors to a setting – eg. parents attending a performance, you should risk asses that space and ensure adequate ventilation.

There is no specific guidance now on nursery day trips but obviously these must be risk assessed and the 4 systems of control followed.
Taking trips outside the setting - Wales
The Outdoor Education Advisers Panel has also developed guidance which may be useful for settings considering undertaking visits. See the Protective Measures guidance here.

Quarantine and entering the UK

Updates to Government travel restrictions are here. This also covers testing and quarantining rules and “red” countries. The guidance all travellers should follow on quarantining is here.

From 15 February, if you are travelling from outside of the Common Travel Area (the CTA, comprising United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands), and you do not qualify under an exemption, you are required to quarantine in managed isolation for 10 days on arrival in Scotland. 

If you have visited an acute risk country prior to entering the Common Travel Area you are required to enter managed isolation on arrival in Scotland. If you have entered via a non-acute risk country you are required to self-isolate at your accommodation and complete a COVID test on day 2 and day 8.
From 15 February 2021, there is no direct arrival into Wales from travellers who have been in a country on the 'red list'.

If you are returning to the UK from RED list countries, you must arrive through one of the designated ports of entry to the UK in England or Scotland. You must then isolate for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel. Please see the guidance on border rules for more information.

People will not need to isolate for 10 days if they are arriving in Wales from within the Common Travel Area, which includes the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man and have not spent any of the previous 10 days in a red list country.

COVID-19 apps

England and Wales
Settings don’t need to download and display a QR code unless you are expecting a lot of visitors from members of the general public rather than parents or families with whom you have regular contact. Ensure staff pause the app if phones are kept in communal places at work while turned on to avoid false self-isolation instructions.

To avoid any unnecessary notifications to your staff through the Protect Scotland app,  if your teams have downloaded the app you may want to ask them to pause it or turn their phone off while at work.

NHS Test and Trace - England

See guidance on the NHS Test and Trace service for employers, businesses and workers. For your staff teams, Public Health England has published guidance explaining what they should do if the NHS Test and Trace service notifies them that they have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus. 

Test, Trace, Protect - Wales

See information about Test, Trace, Protect here including specific information for employers, critical workers and the general public. It includes a downloadable toolkit available for employers to raise awareness in the workforce. Anyone who has a positive coronavirus test result will be contacted by a team of contact tracers and asked for details of everyone they have had close contact with while they have had symptoms. See information about the contact tracing process. See Welsh Government guidance explaining how employers in Wales can play their part in helping to deliver Wales’ Test, Trace, Protect strategy.

Test and Protect - Scotland

See information about Test and Protect here. It will prevent the spread of coronavirus in the community by identifying cases of coronavirus through testing, tracing the people who may have become infected by spending time in close contact with them and supporting those close contacts to self-isolate, so that if they have the disease they are less likely transmit it to others. The Scottish Government Test and Protect Strategy not only asks those close contacts of people who test positive to self-isolate but also to take a test themselves. This will allow the Test and Protect Team to identify further contacts, and in turn, further containing wider outbreaks. You can find full details of how and when to access a test here.

PPE for nurseries

If you are struggling to source sufficient PPE for your nursery and staff, check with your local authority to see if they can assist you.

See the latest guidance on PPE in nurseries in the Department for Education's Safe working in education and childcare guidance here.

Guidance on safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care provides more information about preventing and controlling infection, how PPE should be used, what type of PPE to use, and how to source it.

See PPE government guidance for nurseries in Wales here which includes general guidance on PPE and additional guidance on PPE where there is a suspected case of coronavirus. There is also further workplace guidance for nurseries in Wales available here. The Keep Wales Safe at Work guidance states that employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one, it also provides information to support employers in doing this. 

See Scottish Government's physical distancing and PPE guidance for education and childcare settings.

The Scottish Government has set up a framework agreement with third-party supplier Lyreco to offer a route to buying PPE for private, voluntary and independent early learning and childcare services. If you wish to open an account with Lyreco, please first read the privacy notice, then complete the form, which must include your Care Inspectorate CS number and email it to  

Social distancing at nursery

The requirement to ‘minimise contact across the setting and maintain social distancing wherever possible’ has been removed from guidance and is no longer necessary.

See guidance for the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable here.

Staff in settings who are CEV should currently attend their place of work if they cannot work from home.
All children who are CEV should attend their setting unless they are one of the very small number of children on the paediatric or other specialist care who have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend.

See Scotland's guidance on social distancing for businesses here and the Scottish Government's advice on physical distancing in early learning and childcare settings from the COVID-19 Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues. 

It is important that all childcare providers in Wales follow the Protective Measures Guidance. Safety and physical distancing signs in a number of languages are also available to support employers.

Staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable are no longer advised to shield following the pausing of shielding from the 1 April 2021. Staff should go to work, if they cannot work from home, as long as the business is Covid-secure (has taken reasonable measures to minimise risk to employees).

Staff members should complete a Risk Assessment with the employer to help consider their personal risk factors for Coronavirus (COVID-19). This tool helps staff members to consider their personal risk factors for COVID-19 and suggests how to stay safe.

Children who have been following shielding measures can return to school when appropriate for their year group.

What are the rules for self-isolating?

Check the latest guidance here. This guidance will be changing from 16 August.

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 however mild, self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started
  • If you are not experiencing symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19, self-isolate for at least 10 days, starting from the day the test was taken. If you develop symptoms during this isolation period, restart your 10-day isolation from the day you developed symptoms
  • After 10 days, if you still have a temperature you should continue to self-isolate and seek medical advice. You do not need to self-isolate after 10 days if you only have a cough or loss of sense of smell or taste, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone. See the ending isolation section below for more information
  • If you live with others, all other household members need to stay at home and not leave the house for 10 days. The 10-day period starts from the day when the first person in the household became ill or if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken.

What does this mean for nursery staff and children?

  • If a child or staff member is symptomatic they must self-isolate for 10 days. Children and staff can request a test if they are symptomatic.
  • If a child or staff member gets a positive test they need to self-isolate for 10 days
  • Anyone who has been in contact with someone who has had a positive test result must self-isolate for the 10 day period
  • If a person believes they have symptoms they will have to isolate until they get a test result, but if that comes back negative and they no longer have symptoms they will be able to come out of isolation.
In England, Financial and practical support is available for those who have to self-isolate.

In Wales, people on low incomes can apply to receive a £500 payment if they have tested positive for coronavirus or they are asked to self-isolate by the NHS Wales ‘Test Trace Protect’ service.

What to do if you have a confirmed case in your setting

See our step-by-step guide to what to do if you get a confirmed coronavirus / COVID-19 case in your nursery setting, plus a guide to dealing with the press and more FAQs.


From Step 4, close contacts will be identified via NHS Test and Trace and education settings will no longer be expected to undertake contact tracing. NHS Test and Trace will work with the positive case to identify close contacts. You may still be contacted by Test and Trace to support efforts to trace these close contacts. Parents and staff will still have to inform you of a positive case and you will need to report these cases to Ofsted.

See the guidance on reporting incidents to help you make sure you’re satisfying your duty to notify Ofsted and have the information you need to do this. This notification should be done within 14 days.

Managers and staff must be aware of Test and Protect arrangements should someone become unwell. If a member of the staff team has symptoms, they must self-isolate and not attend  the setting, and must contact the NHS to arrange to be tested at 0800 028 2816 or You can find more information on the COVID-19 Test and Protect webpage.

The Scottish Government has produced an information card which gives you a quick breakdown of what you should do if you have a suspected outbreak of COVID-19 in your setting

The Welsh Government has issued guidance noting: "If you have more than one confirmed case of COVID-19 within 14 days, in your workplace, you must report it to your regional Test Trace and Protect team."

Find out more here.

Ensure that you are notify CIW of confirmed cases of COVID-19 of people using the service, and members of staff (and in the case of childminders, other family members living at the premises). 

What to do if you have a suspected case at your setting

If the child or staff member is displaying the symptoms, they should be sent home to self-isolate for 10 days and their whole household should isolate for 10 days. If they have a positive result, your local public health protection team will contact your setting and advise on what precautions you should take.

A child should be moved away from other children and cared for separately with appropriate adult supervision. If it is not possible to isolate the child, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other children. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. Disposable gloves, apron and a fluid-resistant surgical mask should be worn if the child requires personal care or close contact. If a risk assessment determines that there is a risk of splashing to the eyes, for example from coughing, spitting, or vomiting, then eye protection should also be worn. If a child needs to go to the toilet while waiting to be collected, they should use a separate toilet if possible.

What do I do while I wait for a child to be collected?

In Wales, as outlined within the Protective Measures guidance'Settings will need to have a clear, written procedure in place for the protection of staff and children if a child develops symptoms while at the setting. Their parent/carer should be called immediately and the child collected and taken home. Young sick children will need to be cared for until they are collected.'

Should there be a delay in a parent collecting a symptomatic child, you should contact the local environmental health officer via your local council’s website.

The Scottish Government ELC guidance states that if a child develops symptoms of COVID-19 while in the setting, a ventilated space must be available for the child to wait in until they can be collected by their parent. 

Where space allows, you should prevent contact between any other children in the setting. Ensure that guidance on the use of PPE is followed. Care must be taken however to ensure the appropriate levels of supervision of all children. 

What to do to clean the nursery afterwards

The areas where a person suspected of having COVID-19 has been, including toilets, must be cleaned and disinfected. Gloves and aprons should be used when cleaning these areas. 

In Wales, cleaning of the setting must take place as set out in Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Childcare Settings.


Cleaning in England is outlined in this main guidance.

If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms (new continuous cough, high temperature, loss of smell or taste) themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell and where possible should change into clean clothing.

How to prevent the spread of the virus

Good hygiene and handwashing is essential and very important in nurseries anyway. See our tips on encouraging children to wash their hands thoroughly.

There is an excellent BBC video that shows you how you should be washing your hands each time. You can also ring the Department for Education helpline for general hygiene advice. 

Do you need to close your nursery if a child/staff are confirmed as contracting COVID-19?

There has not been any advice given as to when or in what circumstances any business would have to shut as a result of COVID-19. You should work with public health teams and follow their advice.

In England you do NOT need to notify Ofsted if someone is self-isolating but if a child or staff member has a positive test, you must notify Ofsted. 

The management of outbreaks and cases of infectious disease in settings is led by local health protection teams (HPTs) alongside local partners, such as local authorities. You should ensure that you know how to contact your local HPT and who will usually be responsible for doing so.

ELC settings will work closely with their local HPT to resolve the situation. Public Health Scotland are developing a national protocol for managing cases and outbreaks in schools and ELC settings.

Managers must notify the Care Inspectorate in the event of any confirmed or suspected outbreak of an infectious disease. Notifications and guidance are available through eForms.

In Wales you are required to notify CIW of confirmed cases. Use CIW Online to notify and report as you would any infectious disease. If your childcare and play service (including childminders) is now closed, inform CIW. The relevant notification can be found under “Leadership and Management” on CIW Online. 

RIDDOR report

We are aware of some members being advised that they should have made a RIDDOR report (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences) as a result of a positive COVID-19 case in their setting. 

The information taken from the HSE’s Covid reporting guide is most likely to relate to:

  • A person at work (a worker) has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 attributed to an occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a case of disease.

You would need to have a written medical diagnosis of COVID-19 before you are obliged to make a RIDDOR report. 

The guidance goes on to say: “When deciding if a report is required, the responsible person (usually the employer) must make a judgement, based on the information available, as to whether or not a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 is likely to have been caused by an occupational exposure.”

You may want to consider whether there was an up-to-date risk assessment in place when the person became infected, and how closely plans to mitigate risks were followed. If risks have been identified and effective plans and policies are in place to manage them, it is unlikely that a RIDDOR report will be necessary. 

Take advice from your local Health Protection Team if you have a case in your nursery. Our Health and Safety partner Citation advises that employers should consider documenting the reasons why they didn’t need to submit a RIDDOR report in case this is queried later on.

Parent and carer visits (England and Wales)

England – from 19 July the advice to ‘avoid visitors entering your premises, wherever possible’ has been removed. There are no guidelines advising you against visitors. However, you will still need to have up to date risk assessments and be comfortable with the level of risk having larger numbers of visitors to settings may present. 
Under the guidance to keep occupied spaces well ventilated you should identify any poorly ventilated spaces as part of your risk assessment and take steps to improve fresh air flow in these areas, giving particular consideration where visitors are on site. You may also want to take into account local infection rates in your decisions about allowing visitors within your setting and how many you are comfortable with. It is good practice to ensure you are engaging with parents about your approach to visitors.
Wales - Visits are at the discretion of each setting and that during operating hours, only essential visitors are permitted to access childcare settings. While this includes parents/carers dropping off/picking up their children, it does not include parents/carers visiting the site when considering using the setting to care for their child. However, where precautions are taken and risk assessments allow, settings are able to facilitate parents/carers visiting a setting in the evenings or at weekends (outside normal operating hours) when considering using a setting for the care of their child.  The guidance includes additional measures which would be required in addition to the existing control measures for these visits to take place. 

See protective measures in childcare settings guidance.

Wales - ventilation

Further information on ventilation has been included in the protective measures in childcare settings guidance, including the following steps that will usually be needed:
  • Checking whether you need to service or adjust ventilation systems, for example, so that they do not automatically reduce ventilation levels due to lower than normal occupancy levels.
  • Most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment, however where systems serve multiple buildings or you are unsure, advice can be sought from your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers.
  • Removing any fans from, for example, workstations, to avoid the recirculation of air.
  • Opening windows and doors frequently to encourage ventilation, where possible, and if it is safe to do so. 

See all coronavirus support