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?
    • Ruling on having agency staff into the setting (response from DfE on 20 November)
  • 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
  • Wales - parent and carer visits
  • 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. 

The Government recommends that face coverings should be worn by nursery staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas). Children in early years settings do not need to wear a face covering.

The current guidance, issued by the Scottish Government updated on 15 March 2021 should continue to be followed. 

Up to date guidance on infection control measures  can be found in this guidance which was updated on 5 March 2021.

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:
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 now 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  

The process for how you can order testing kits changes from 29 April. You will enable you to 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.

Planned stock replenishment in w/c 3 May
You will still automatically receive a delivery of test kits between Thursday 6 May and Monday 10 May. The delivery that you receive will be the final automatic delivery. After this you will need to place an order to receive further test kits. 
This delivery should provide you with sufficient testing kits to last until the end of May. This means you do not need to place an order for testing kits immediately and will have time to familiarise yourself with the new ordering process, so that you can place an order when needed.

Delivery timescales 
When you are ready to place your first order, you will need to consider the government’s delivery timelines. Any order which is placed by Wednesday 5pm will be delivered the following week. Any orders placed after this point will be processed and delivered in the subsequent week. For your first order, you may want to place the order at least three working days before the weekly Wednesday 5pm delivery cut off, to ensure that any initial setup issues can be resolved in good time. The table below summarises the delivery timelines:

Week 1: Orders placed before Wednesday 5pm - Week 2: Order received
Week 1: Orders placed after Wednesday 5pm - Week 3: Delivery received

Each delivery you receive will be based on the staff numbers you submit and will provide you with sufficient test kits to test twice weekly for three and a half weeks. 

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.

Key points from the FAQ responses for PVI nurseries are:

Is participation compulsory?
The DfE expects all private, voluntary and independent (PVI) nurseries will want to participate and offer at-home test kits to staff. It is voluntary for staff to participate.

Once staff understand the testing process and read a privacy notice, if they choose to participate, they are committing to self-administer the test and provide their results. Settings should aim to ensure that staff provide their results (positive, negative or void) to NHS Test and Trace via the self-report page. Results (positive, negative or void) should also be shared with the nursery to support local contact tracing.

Staff who decline to participate can still attend nursery. Staff who decline to participate in this testing programme should follow the usual national guidelines on self-isolation and anyone showing symptoms should get tested.

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.

Schools and nurseries should send home those people who have been in close contact with the person who has tested positive, as defined in the actions for early years and childcare providers guidance. Those who have come into close contact with staff who have a positive LFD result should isolate straight away rather than waiting for the staff member’s confirmatory positive PCR test.

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 announced that all teachers and early years staff will be able to request a coronavirus test if they are concerned they may have been at risk from infection, even if they show no symptoms. Testing for staff who may be concerned about exposure but who are asymptomatic will use the Employer referral route. Individuals will need to request to be referred for a test through their employer; employers will have to be registered with the employer portal.

On Tuesday 6 April the First Minister announced that there will be access to twice weekly rapid testing available for everyone who would like to have a kit also.

Lateral Flow Device Testing - Objective Connect
As part of the roll-out of the testing programme the Scottish Government is now starting to invite all settings and LA contact points to access the supporting documentation on an online portal called Objective Connect. In order to access important documents and guidance on routine asymptomatic testing for staff, settings need to register on Objective Connect. Objective Connect is a platform the Scottish Government will use to share the most up-to-date versions of resources that are essential for the asymptomatic testing programme. Settings are able to view and download documents shared in this workspace, for onward sharing with colleagues in their organisation. This is also where the FAQs for testing will be held. You should shortly be contacted directly by the Childcare testing program team with instructions on how to access Objective Connect.

Update on delivery schedule of Lateral Flow Device Testing Kits
The Scottish Government has received confirmation from suppliers that deliveries will commence from the week of 22 March 2021; some deliveries may take place in the following week. When the Scottish Government has confirmed a detailed day by day delivery schedule it will be able to share this with you; this will provide each setting with a date on which your delivery will be made. This schedule is only made available at the end of the week in advance of deliveries. The Scottish Governments expect the schedule for the week of 22 March to be available via Objective Connect no later than today, and will alert you to this through the platform. Please note that someone will be required to be available at the setting address to receive this delivery so please make sure you check for your delivery date. You should have received this provider notice on Wednesday 17 March which explains all of this in more detail.

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.

This guidance supports contact tracing in education and childcare settings.

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. Registered Day care providers were automatically enrolled on the delivery schedule, if settings did not wish to take up the offer they were asked to opt out by contacting

There are two routes for accessing the UK Testing Programme for staff:

  • The employer referral portal – education, childcare and children’s social care settings, as employers, can obtain a log in to a secure online employer referral portal, through which they can upload a full list of names of self-isolating essential workers that need a test
  • The employee portal – this allows individual key workers to book a test directly themselves.
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.

The delivery schedules for childcare setting testing kits is available on the asset bank so you can check when your deliveries are due to take place. It has also been updated with a testing process for childcare staff flow chart.

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.

Side effects of teething and non-Covid childhood vaccinations - England
The DfE has issued updated guidance for nurseries about children who are teething or who have been vaccinated. 

If a child has been given routine childhood vaccinations, they may experience a “mild fever”. The child does NOT need to isolate unless there is reason to suspect they have COVID-19.

Teething can cause flushed cheeks and sore gums, but NHS guidelines state that fever is “not a symptom of teething”.

If you or the parents are concerned about a child’s health, parents should seek advice from their GP or ring NHS 111. If you suspect coronavirus (COVID-19), follow the advice in the system of controls.

England - singing and trips out

See the latest here.  

  • Singing in groups – from 12 April a group of up to 6 adults with children under age of five can sing outdoors at any one time
  • Singing indoors – no more than 6 adults in the room can sing together in each group with children under five – maintain same groups for the duration of the session. Good ventilation with fresh air must be maintained.
  • Educational day visits – these can resume but must be conducted in lines with Covid guidelines including the system of controls (keeping children in consistent groups) and abiding by the measures at their destination. Maximise the use of private and public outdoor spaces – you do not need to be restricted to limits on gatherings on certain listed conditions eg you remain within EYFS ratios. See the guidelines on trips to indoor spaces which include a thorough risk assessment, remaining in your group, washing hands thoroughly on arrival and before departure.
Taking trips outside the setting - Wales

Trips and visits can play an important role in enriching development as well as support children’s wellbeing. In line with the relaxation of other restrictions, such as the reopening of indoor and outdoor visitor attractions and the resumption of indoor and outdoor organised activities, settings may wish to consider undertaking domestic day visits where visiting locations outside of the setting is integral to the children’s experience.
Maximising time spent outdoors by children has physical, mental and developmental benefits and generally the risk of transmitting COVID-19 is lower outdoors compared to indoors. However, mitigating measures e.g. social distancing or using face coverings where this is not possible if relevant, and maintaining good hand hygiene, are still needed outdoors. Settings are encouraged to consider this in the planning of any visits.
Settings wishing to undertake domestic day visits should continue to undertake the usual risk assessment processes when planning visits. This risk assessment should include arrangements if a child develops Covid-19 symptoms during the visit. Travel time should be minimised wherever possible. Settings should also consider the guidance set out elsewhere in this document, including but not limited to:
minimising contact with others,
maintaining social distancing
maintaining good hand hygiene.
They should also consider other relevant Welsh Government guidance, including, but not limited to:
travelling safely (coronavirus): guidance for the public
current restrictions: frequently asked questions
The Outdoor Education Advisers Panel has also developed guidance which may be useful for settings considering undertaking visits.

Quarantine and entering the UK

All travel corridors for people arriving in England are currently suspended – updates are here. This also covers testing and quarantining rules and banned “red” countries. The guidance all travellers should follow on quarantining is here.

From 15 February onwards, everyone allowed to enter England who has visited or passed through a country where travel to the UK is banned in the last 10 days must:

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, all people who have been in a RED list country in the previous 10 days will not be allowed into Wales.  
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
The app will be used, alongside traditional contact tracing, to notify users if they come into contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus. The app also allows users to report symptoms, order a coronavirus test, check into venues by scanning a QR code and it helps the NHS trace individuals that may have coronavirus. An explainer video is available about the app and you can find a full range of resources and FAQs here. This includes information about using and downloading the app and what the app does. 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.

The Protect Scotland app from NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect is a free, mobile phone app designed to help us protect each other and reduce the spread of coronavirus. The app will alert you if you have been in close contact with another app user who tests positive for coronavirus. And if you test positive, it can help in determining contacts that you may have otherwise missed while keeping your information private and anonymous. 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

See references to social distancing between adults, adults and children and clinically vulnerable staff members in the Actions for Early Years and Childcare Providers guidance. 

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced the addition of a third category to the definition of Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. The definition now includes a new group of adults who have been identified through the COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment as potentially being at high risk of serious illness if they catch the virus.

Staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable are no longer advised to shield (April 2021). Staff in nurseries who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to continue to work from home but if this is not possible, they should attend the workplace. Adults should maintain a 2m distance and when this isn’t possible, avoid close face to face contact and minimise time spent 1m away from other adults.

Children who are clinically vulnerable should attend their setting unless they have been advised by their GP, specialist 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. 

See specific social distancing guidance to help employers in Wales here. 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.

  • 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.

A person won’t be able to get a test unless they are showing symptoms or have had a positive LFD test, so situations where they have to self-isolate for 10 days due to quarantine post-return to the UK or as a result of test and trace contacts will still require them to isolate for 10 days. They can only get a test within that 10 day period if they start to show symptoms. Anyone not complying with an official instruction to self-isolate in England could be fined £1,000 which rises to £10,000 for serial offenders or serious breaches.

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 because they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The payment is available to people on a low income who are unable to work from home and would lose income as a result of self-isolating. To be eligible, people must be self-isolating and in receipt of Universal Credit or another specified benefit.

Ruling on having agency staff into the setting? (DfE response on 20 November)

Settings can continue to engage agency staff and students. Supply staff and other temporary workers can move between settings but setting leaders will want to consider how to minimise the number of visitors to the setting where possible.

Where it is necessary to use supply staff and to welcome visitors to the school such as students, those individuals will be expected to comply with settings arrangements for managing and minimising risk, including taking particular care to maintain distance from other staff and children.

To minimise the numbers of temporary staff entering the setting and secure best value, settings may wish to use longer assignments with supply teachers and agree a minimum number of hours across the year.

The presence of any additional members of staff should be agreed on a weekly rather than a daily basis where possible, in order to limit contacts.

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.

See the Actions for Early years providers which says if you have a positive case in your setting, ring the DfE’s helpline on 0800 046 8687 and choose option 1 to get advice on how to proceed. The helpline is manned Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. This option should only be selected if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) within your nursery. Callers will be put through to a team of advisors who will advise on what action is needed based on the latest public health advice, and work through a risk assessment to identify close contacts.

While the first priority should be to work with public health officials, report any confirmed case to Ofsted as soon as possible but within 14 days. 

The National Clinical Director has also written an open letter to parents and carers providing guidance on how COVID-19 symptoms differ from those of other infections circulating at this time of year. Some of the key points to ensure that parents, carers and staff are aware of are as follows:

  • It is essential that people do not attend a setting if symptomatic.
  • Everyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 – a new, continuous cough; fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste - must self-isolate straight away, stay at home and arrange a test via the appropriate method (see below).
  • People who live in the same household as a person with symptoms must also self-isolate straight away and stay at home. Only those developing COVID-19 symptoms should be tested.
  • ELC setting staff who opt to undertake asymptomatic testing do not need to self-isolate while awaiting results, as long as no symptoms develop, unless they are a close contact of a symptomatic and confirmed case, in which case they will need to self-isolate.
  • If the test is positive, the symptomatic person must remain in isolation until 10 days from symptom onset, or longer if symptoms persist.  The rest of the household must remain in isolation for 10 days from symptom onset in the symptomatic person, even if they don’t have If the test is positive, the symptomatic person must remain in isolation until 10 days from symptom onset, or longer if symptoms persist.  The rest of the household must remain in isolation for 10 days from symptom onset in the symptomatic person, even if they don’t have symptoms themselves. These people should not attend settings.
  • Everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be put in touch with the local contact tracing team so that other close contacts can be identified. All close contacts who are in the same household as confirmed cases must self-isolate immediately. 
  • Everyone who needs to self-isolate as close contacts of confirmed cases must continue to do so for 10 days, even if they have a negative test result.
  • Unless otherwise advised by Test and Protect or local Incident Management Teams, where children or staff do not have symptoms but are self-isolating as a close contact of a person who is a confirmed case, other people in their household will not be asked to self-isolate along with them.
  • Staff can book a test through, the employer referral portal (for staff only – see below) or, if they cannot get online, by calling 0800 028 2816. Parents and carers can book a test on a child’s behalf.

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 if a child is otherwise ill or has had immunisations causing illness

If the child is unwell but does not have any COVID-19 symptoms, we advise you to follow your usual nursery policy as agreed with parents on giving medicines. 

Public Health England
has also issued advice regarding children who have been given routine immunisations as many experience a fever for a couple of days.

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.

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.

Wales - parent and carer visits

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