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This advice is for babies and children up to the end of primary school, usually the age of 12 or 13.

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus) or has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, keep them at home. They may need to be tested for COVID-19.

Read more about when you should keep your child at home and what to do.

When it is OK to send your child to to school or childcare

If your child is not a close contact, it is usually OK to send them to primary school or childcare if they:

  • only have nasal symptoms, such as a runny nose or a sneeze
  • do not have a high temperature and are not taking any form of paracetamol or ibuprofen - this can hide a temperature
  • do not have a new cough
  • do not live with anyone who is unwell and may have COVID-19
  • have been told by a GP that it's OK to go back to school or childcare if they have recently been unwell.
  • have got a negative COVID-19 test result and have not had symptoms for 48 hours
  • have not had diarrhoea for 48 hours
  • are being tested as part of a serial testing programme, but have no symptoms and are not a close contact. For example, some children in direct provision centres
  • are tested regularly because they are in a vulnerable group.

You do not need a GP cert

Your child does not need a GP cert or a note from a GP to return to school.

Their school may ask you to sign a form to say that your child is well enough to attend. This is called a Return To Educational Facility Parental Declaration Form (PDF, 1 page, 95KB).

Runny nose or sneezing

It's OK to send your child to primary school or childcare if a runny nose or sneezing are the only symptoms they have. A runny nose or sneezing on their own are more likely to be symptoms of a cold or other viral infection.

But if they also have a high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or over); loss of smell or taste; a cough; or shortness of breath:

Most of the time, you do not need to phone your GP if a runny nose or sneezing are your child's only symptoms. Talk to your pharmacist instead.

Teach your child to sneeze and cough into their arm or elbow. Also tell them to use a tissue if clearing their nose and to bin it after use.

Read more about colds, coughs and viral infections in children.

If your GP diagnoses your child with something else

Your child can return to their normal activities if they are diagnosed with something that is not COVID-19.

They will not need a test for COVID-19 if they are given a different diagnosis.

You and anyone your child lives with will no longer need to restrict your movements.

Related Topics

Protecting your child from COVID-19

Explaining COVID-19 to your child

What to do if you live with someone with COVID-19

Last updated: 28 October 2020 at 5pm

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