If your child is a close contact of COVID-19 in school

If your child has been in close contact with someone else who has COVID-19 in school or childcare, you will be contacted to bring your child home. The school or childcare facility will not share the name of the person who tested positive for COVID-19.

Our contact tracing team will arrange COVID-19 testing for your child and contact you with the details. Do not ring your GP, unless your child develops symptoms.

The risk of your child becoming infected with COVID-19 from this close contact is low. Even if your child does become infected with the virus, most children don’t get any symptoms. If they do get symptoms, they usually have a very mild illness.

But there are some things you need to do to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

How COVID-19 is spread

Watch a video for parents of children who are close contacts

Dr Abigail Collins shares advice on what to do if your child has been in close contact with someone else who has COVID-19 in school or childcare.

Explaining COVID-19 to your child

If your child has symptoms

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19, they will need to isolate from others immediately and you should phone your GP. 

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • a fever (high temperature - 38 degrees Celsius or above)
  • a cough - this can be any kind of cough, not just dry
  • shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Isolating from others means they should stay in a room, on their own, with a window open for ventilation. They should avoid contact with other people. Depending on the age of your child, a parent may need to isolate with them.

Read more about what to do if your child is told to isolate from other people

If your child does not have symptoms

Your child needs to stay at home (restricted movements)

Your child should restrict their movements for 14 days, from when they were last in close contact with the person who has tested positive for COVID-19. This is sometimes called quarantine.

They can stop restricting their movements when both apply:

  • They have a negative test (COVID-19 not detected) 10 days after they were last in contact with the person who tested positive.
  • They do not have any symptoms of COVID-19.

Restricted movements means they need to stay at home, avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. This is to help stop the spread of the virus if they do have COVID-19 too.

During the 14 days of restricted movements your child cannot:

  • attend school, childcare or any group activities
  • use public transport
  • visit other people’s homes or have visitors to your home

Your child can go outside to attend a medical appointment or to exercise as long as they keep 2 metres distance from other people.

Read more about how to restrict your movements

Read about the difference between self-isolation and restricted movements

The rest of your household

If your child who is a close contact of COVID-19 is feeling well, with no symptoms of COVID-19, other people in the house do not need to restrict their movements. They can continue to go to work, school, preschool or childcare.

But, if they have also been told they are also a close contact of COVID-19, they should restrict their movements. They will also be referred for a free COVID-19 test.

If your child develops symptoms, the people in your household should restrict their movements until the test results come back.

Your child's COVID-19 test 

Our contact tracing team will contact you to organise a free COVID-19 test for your child. Keep your phone close to you and make sure it is switched on.

You will get a text message on the day of the test with details of the test location, date and time. People will normally get their test result within 2 days.

You do not need to contact your GP to arrange a test.

The second test will usually be 10 days after your child was last in contact with the person who tested positive. It may be more than 10 days, depending on other test results in the school.

If your child’s last contact with them was more than 8 days ago, they will only have one test. 

You will get a text message with the appointment details of the second test on the same day as the test. Your child must continue to restrict their movements while they wait for the second test.

Read more about COVID-19 testing for children

If your child tests positive

Your child will need to isolate from others (stay in their room) if their test result is positive (COVID-19 virus found).

They’ll need to remain in isolation until both of these apply:

  • they have not had a high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or over) for 5 days
  • it has been 10 days since they first developed symptoms

If they have no symptoms, they can stop isolating 10 days from the date of their test.

If your child tests positive and gets another test appointment within 14 days of this test, they do not need to attend.

Caring for a child in isolation

If you are looking after a young child who is isolating there is a risk that you can become infected too. It will be difficult for you to isolate from them.

Because of this, you need to take extra care to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and restrict your movements for longer than usual.

You and everyone in your household will need to restrict your movements for 17 days. This includes the 10 days that your child is in isolation and for 7 days after your child's isolation period ends.

If your child tests negative

If your child, who is a close contact with no symptoms of COVID-19, receives a negative test result (COVID-19 virus not detected), they still need to restrict their movements:

  • for 14 days from their last contact with the person who tested positive, or
  • until the date you were told by contact tracing

They can stop restricting their movements when both apply:

  • They have a negative test (COVID-19 not detected) 10 days after they were last in contact with the person who tested positive.
  • They do not have any symptoms of COVID-19.

The rest of the household do not have to restrict their movements.

If your child develops symptoms of COVID-19 after a negative test

If your child had a negative test result (COVID-19 not detected) but later goes on to develop symptoms, isolate your child and phone your GP.

Explain to your GP that your child was tested as a close contact of a case of COVID-19 and they have now developed symptoms of COVID-19. The GP will discuss referring your child for another free COVID-19 test.

If your child develops symptoms, people in your household need to restrict their movements and stay at home. This means not going to school or work.

If the test result comes back negative (COVID-19 not detected):

  • the rest of the household no longer have to restrict their movements
  • the child who is a close contact should still continue to restrict their movements for 14 days

If your child's symptoms get worse

If your child becomes very unwell quickly, it's rare that they have COVID-19. Their symptoms may be because of another illness.

Immediate action required: Phone 999 or 112 if:

  • your baby is under 3 months old and has a high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or more)

Urgent advice: Phone your GP urgently if:

  • your baby is aged 3 to 6 months and has a high temperature

Read about symptoms in babies and children that need urgent medical help

If your child had a previous positive test and is now a close contact

Your child tested positive in the past 2 weeks

They do not need another test. If they receive a test appointment, they do not need to attend. They should complete the 10 days of isolation (stay in their room).

Your child tested positive more than 9 months ago

If they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 now

They will be referred for another test. They will need to restrict their movements for 14 days. They can stop restricting their movements if they have a negative test (COVID-19 not detected) 10 days or more after their last contact with the person with COVID-19.

If they have new symptoms

They will be referred for another test. They need to self-isolate until they get the result of their test and further advice. If the test is negative, they will need to restrict their movements. They need to do this for 14 days from when they were last in contact with the person with COVID-19.

They tested positive more than 2 weeks ago and less than 9 months ago

If they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 now

They do not need another test. They do not need to restrict their movements.

If they have new symptoms

They will be referred for another test. They need to isolate from others until they get the result of their test. If the test is negative, they can stop restricting their movements when they are 48 hours with no symptoms.

Protecting your child from COVID-19

Last updated: 28 April 2021 at 11.40am