Early childhood education and care (ECEC) COVID-19 guidance for families
COVID-19 guidance for families using Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), including child care, long day care, family day care and outside school hours care
This guidance relates to Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings including child care, long day care, family day care and outside school hours care.
Read more about the COVID-19 safety measures at NSW schools and early childhood education and care.
Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings (long day care, family day care and outside school hours care) are at a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission due to the close interactions between people and the amount of time spent in settings that are often indoors.
Children are less likely to have serious illness from COVID-19, but they can still transmit the virus to others and therefore it is important to follow the health advice and consider your individual circumstances.
The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) has useful information for families: COVID-19 and children: Frequently asked questions.
All staff and family members should have their COVID-19 booster vaccine as soon as they are eligible to reduce the likelihood of severe illness and transmission.
Who is at risk of transmission in an ECEC service?
The transmission risk of COVID-19 varies depending on the amount of time spent with the person with COVID-19 and whether it was in an indoor or outdoor setting.
If a staff member or child at the service is positive for COVID-19, those at highest risk are children and staff who have been indoors with the positive person. Transmission can still occur outdoors; however it is lower risk than indoors. If the length of the contact is short, such as a parent or carer who is positive for COVID -19 quickly dropping off or picking up a child, the risk is low.
Although transmission of COVID-19 in ECEC services is likely, COVID-19 remains a relatively mild illness for most children.
What do I need to do if there is a positive case?
Your ECEC provider will tell you when there has been a case at the centre.
It is likely there will be other cases in the ECEC service in the two weeks after the initial case’s attendance at the centre. Families should consider this when making decisions about ECEC attendance of your child during this period including the risk of spread to other members of the household (such as vulnerable adults).
If your child is at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because of underlying health issues, you should consider keeping them at home for at least 7 days following a positive COVID-19 case in the centre, so they are not re-exposed as this is the highest risk period. Please speak to your GP if you need more advice.
NSW Health advice for each level of risk is outlined in Information for people exposed to COVID-19. The majority of exposures within an ECEC service are likely to be high risk for spread of COVID-19, noting the disease is generally mild in children.
What if someone in my household tests positive to COVID-19?
Children and staff who live with someone who has tested positive to COVID-19 must follow the NSW Health household and close contact guidelines.
Where do I go for more information on rapid antigen testing?
The what COVID-19 test should I do? fact sheet has more information on testing and what type of test is most appropriate.
How can we help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in ECEC services?
There are simple steps we can all take to help slow the spread of COVID-19. These include:
- Children and staff should get tested immediately if they have symptoms and not attend the ECEC service until they are well, even if their test is negative.
- For children and staff at high risk of infection following contact with a COVID-19 positive person in an ECEC service, the most effective way of protecting others is to limit movements as much as possible for 7 days following contact with the positive person. This includes staying at home as much as possible, avoiding visitors to the home and minimising social interaction with those outside their household, especially vulnerable people.
- Staying 1.5 metres away from other people where possible and avoid crowding children together
- Staff and adults wearing a mask at all times at the service
- Cleaning hands regularly with hand sanitiser or soap and running water for 20 seconds
- All family members and staff should get vaccinated (including having a booster) as soon as they are eligible.