When it's OK to send your child to school or childcare

This advice is for babies and children up to the end of secondary school, usually the age of 18.

If your child is not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, keep them at home if they:

If your child is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, keep them at home if they:

What we mean by fully vaccinated against COVID-19

You are fully vaccinated:

  • 7 days after your second Pfizer/BioNTech dose - also known as ‘Comirnaty’
  • 15 days after your second AstraZeneca dose - this vaccine may be called ‘Vaxzevria’ or ‘Covishield’
  • 14 days after your second Moderna dose - also known as ‘Spikevax’
  • 14 days after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘Janssen’ - this is a single dose vaccine

What to do if you need to keep your child at home

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

If your child has not been told by the HSE that they are a close contact, it is usually OK to send them to school or childcare if they:

  • only have nasal symptoms, such as a runny nose or a sneeze
  • do not have a high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or over)
  • are not taking any form of paracetamol or ibuprofen that could hide a high temperature
  • do not have a new cough
  • do not live with anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19
  • were told by a GP that it's OK to go back to school or childcare after being unwell
  • got a negative COVID-19 test result and have not had any new 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. For example, some children in direct provision centres
  • are tested regularly because they are in a vulnerable group

If your child is also fully vaccinated against COVID-19, it is OK to send them to school or childcare if they:

  • are a close contact of COVID-19 but have no symptoms
  • live with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19
What we mean by fully vaccinated against COVID-19

You are fully vaccinated:

  • 7 days after your second Pfizer/BioNTech dose - also known as ‘Comirnaty’
  • 15 days after your second AstraZeneca dose - this vaccine may be called ‘Vaxzevria’ or ‘Covishield’
  • 14 days after your second Moderna dose - also known as ‘Spikevax’
  • 14 days after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘Janssen’ - this is a single dose vaccine

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 or childcare.

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 school or childcare if a runny nose or sneezing are the only symptoms they have.

But if your child has a runny nose and feels unwell or is off form, they should stay at home.

A runny nose or sneezing on their own are more likely to be symptoms of a cold or other viral infection.

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. 

Follow the advice to prevent the spread of colds, coughs and viral infections in children

If your child also has a high temperature, loss of smell or taste, a cough or shortness of breath, follow the advice for children with symptoms of COVID-19.

In this case, you should:

What we mean by fully vaccinated against COVID-19

You are fully vaccinated:

  • 7 days after your second Pfizer/BioNTech dose - also known as ‘Comirnaty’
  • 15 days after your second AstraZeneca dose - this vaccine may be called ‘Vaxzevria’ or ‘Covishield’
  • 14 days after your second Moderna dose - also known as ‘Spikevax’
  • 14 days after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘Janssen’ - this is a single dose vaccine

If your child has tested positive for COVID-19

If your child has tested positive for COVID-19, they should not return to school or childcare until both of these apply:

  • they have not had a high temperature for 5 days
  • it has been 10 days since they first developed symptoms

They do not need a negative test result to return to school or childcare.

If your child was tested for COVID-19 because they had symptoms, they will usually only have one test.

Read more about how long a child needs to isolate from other people

If your GP diagnoses your child with something else

Your child will not need a test for COVID-19 if they are diagnosed with something that is not COVID-19.

Your child can return to their normal activities as long as your GP has not told you to keep them at home.

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

Last updated: 26 September 2021 at 10.44pm

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