These frequently asked questions are for parents or carers of someone who needs to self-isolate due to COVID-19. This could be someone caring for a confirmed case, a close or casual contact, or someone waiting for test results.


Last updated: 18 October 2021
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Self-isolation

Where can I get further information on contact management and self-isolation?

Self-isolation requirements and testing guidance is different for people with COVID-19, people who are close contacts, people who are casual contacts and people who have symptoms of COVID-19.

For information relevant to your situation, please refer to the resources below: :

What if the person I care for is a close contact and cannot self-isolate on their own?

You will need to self-isolate with them for their full isolation period.

If other members of your household cannot self-isolate away from you or the person who is a close contact (e.g. a single parent household with young children), you will all need to isolate together for the full isolation period of the person who is the close contact. You will all need to also get tested when they do.

This advice is irrespective of the vaccination status of household members. For example, if the person who is a close contact is unvaccinated, they need to self-isolate for 14 days. Everyone isolating with them therefore also needs to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they are fully vaccinated.

You should keep the person who is the close contact away from the rest of your household as much as you can.

This advice also applies when a parent or carer is the close contact and is unable to self-isolate away from the person they care for in the household.

See the close contact fact sheet for further information on testing and isolation timeframes.

What if the person I care for is a close contact and can self-isolate by themselves?

If the person you care for can self-isolate effectively alone, other members of your household will not need to self-isolate. The person who is a close contact should remain completely separated from the rest of the household.

For further information on safely isolating within a household and testing requirements, see the close contact fact sheet.

What if a member of my household is positive for COVID-19 and we are unable to self-isolate separately?

You should try to keep any COVID-19 positive members of your household separated as much as you can. If the positive member of your household cannot self-isolate by themselves, a vaccinated adult should isolate with them if possible.

All people in your home are considered close contacts and must self-isolate for up to 14 days, depending on vaccination status. If anyone else in your household tests positive for COVID-19, you will need to restart your isolation period.

Further information about self-isolation is available for confirmed cases and close contacts.

What if the person I care for develops worsening COVID-19 symptoms?

If the person you care for is a confirmed case of COVID-19 and develops mild symptoms, such as runny nose, cough, tiredness and fever, they can be managed with rest and plenty of fluids, similar to a regular cold or flu. Look out for severe or worsening symptoms, particularly severe headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing or chest pressure or pain. If these symptoms occur, you should call 000 straight away and tell ambulance staff that they have COVID-19.

If the person you care for is a close contact and develops symptoms of COVID-19 at any point during isolation, help them to access testing immediately. You must not travel by public transport or ride-share. Wear face masks that cover your nose and mouth and tell staff immediately that the person is a close contact of a person with COVID-19. Young children should not wear a mask as it can be a choking and suffocation risk.

Should my child wear a mask while in self-isolation?

Not all age groups can use masks effectively and it may not be safe for all children. Babies and toddlers should never wear a mask, as it can be a choking and suffocation risk. Teenagers who are able to wear masks should do so when they are with others. Masks are recommended for primary school aged children and should be worn while they are around others in the home, even though this type of interaction should be limited. Parents should assist children in this age group with hand hygiene.

For further advice, please see the latest advice on face masks.

What if the person I care for has shared care arrangements?

Moving between households, even for shared caring arrangements is not recommended. People should only move to another household after they and their household members have completed their self-isolation period and have received a negative test result.

Further information about self-isolation is for confirmed cases and close contacts.

What support is available while in self-isolation?

A variety of support options are available for people in self-isolation. For further information, see the confirmed cases and close contacts fact sheets.

Schools and early childhood services

How can I best protect my child who cannot be vaccinated?

The best way to protect young children, and avoid disruption to their education, is to make sure that all eligible members of your household are vaccinated (including children over 12 and adults). All teachers, school staff and early childhood educators also have to be fully vaccinated by 8 November 2021.

Schools and early childhood services have been provided with information on maintaining COVID safe behaviours, mask wearing for staff and students, physical distancing and minimising mixing and mingling of staff, students and children.

What if someone at my child's school or early childhood service has COVID-19?

The school or early childhood service will provide advice about what you need to do if a case of COVID-19 was identified at your child’s school or early childhood service on a day that they attended. Your child may be considered a close or casual contact. Please follow the advice provided to you.

My child is a close contact, when can they return to their school or early childhood service?

Children must follow the advice outlined for their vaccination status in the close contact fact sheet.

If your child is fully vaccinated and has returned their negative day 6 test, they will generally be able to return to school after leaving isolation after day 7. Your child will still be required to test on day 12 and should continue to monitor for symptoms during this time and only return to school if well. If you child is fully vaccinated and attends a specialist school (such as a School for Specific Purpose) it may be a longer isolation period is required. Follow specific advice provided to you by the school.

If your child is unvaccinated, they can return to school after they have finished their full 14 day isolation period and have received their negative day 12 test result.

My child has recovered from COVID-19, when can they return to their school or early childhood service?

Your child can return to school or early childhood service once they have completed their isolation, have been medically cleared and have been provided with a medical clearance notice by a medical practitioner or a registered nurse. Your child should only return to school or early childhood service if well and not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.

For further information on release from isolation, see Release and Recovery from COVID-19.

My child is a casual contact, when can they return to their school or early childhood service?

Your child can return to school or early childhood service when they leave isolation after receiving their first negative COVID-19 test. All casual contacts need to follow the advice in the fact sheet, attend for a day 6 test and only return to school if well.

What if my child needs to self-isolate and is at boarding school?

Your child should remain at school. The school will conduct a risk assessment and make changes to residential arrangements if needed. Your child should follow the advice provided by the school. Your child should only return to the family home to self-isolate in exceptional circumstances when approved by a designated health professional or an authorised contact tracer (including an officer in the NSW Department of Education).

For further information see the boarding schools advice.

Why are primary schools considered high risk settings and high schools are not?

Vaccination substantially reduces the chance of developing COVID-19 and outbreaks occurring in schools. People 12 years of age and over are eligible for vaccination and high school students will soon become a highly vaccinated cohort.

As there is not currently an available vaccine for children under 12, the majority of children in primary schools remain unvaccinated and primary schools carry a higher risk of COVID-19 spreading through the school.

For further information on vaccinations in young adolescents, see the Recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

How can I access my child’s vaccination certificate?

Parents of children under 14 can access their Immunisation History Statement from the Australian Immunisation Register at any time.

Children aged 14 years and over can request their own Immunisation History Statement from the Australian Immunisation Register by using or creating their own Medicare online account through myGov.

What further information is available about COVID-19, children and vaccinations?

For further information about COVID-19, vaccinations and schooling, see the COVID-19 and Children Frequently asked questions from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.


Current as at: Monday 18 October 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW