Download as PDF: Isolation advice for parents and carers 

On this page

These frequently asked questions (FAQs) provide guidance for parents and carers on isolation requirements relating to COVID-19 in schools and childcare centres.

Further information is available at:

My child has received a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19

Does my child need to self-isolate?

Yes, your child must self-isolate at home and must not go to school or childcare. As much as possible, separate your child from others in the home by following NSW Health’s self isolation guideline.

Do others in my household need to self-isolate?

Yes, anyone in the household who spent significant time either face-to-face (15 mins) or in an enclosed space (two hours or more) with your child while they were infectious is considered a close contact and must self-isolate for 14 days since the date of last contact.

What if my child cannot self-isolate from everyone in the household?

It is important to separate your child from household members where possible, even if they are close contacts, due to the ongoing risk of viral transmission. However, we acknowledge that it may not be possible to separate your child from the primary care giver or others in the household, due to their age or other factors. In this case, anyone who is having ongoing contact with your child must extend their own isolation period to 14 days after your child is considered to be cleared of the virus as per NSW Health Criteria (please see below).

When can my child go back to school or childcare?

As a confirmed COVID-19 case, your child must meet certain criteria relating to their recovery before being released from isolation. Once released from isolation, your child can go back to school/childcare.

There is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at my child’s school/childcare and my child has been identified as a close contact

Are you sure my child is a close contact?

Once a case of COVID-19 is identified, a public health unit interviews the case or their parent/carer (depending on their age) and the school/childcare. In conjunction with timetables and attendance records, close contacts are identified as per the standard definitions of:

  • had face to face contact for greater than 15 minutes cumulative over the course of a week, starting from 48 hours before onset of symptoms in the person who was infectious, or
  • been in the same closed space for at least 1 hour, starting from 48 hours before the onset of symptoms in the person who was infectious.

Does my child need to self-isolate?

Yes, your child must remain in home isolation for 14 days from the date of last contact with the confirmed COVID-19 case, and not return to school until all clearance criteria are met (see above: When can my child go back to school or childcare?). As much as possible, separate your child from others in the home by following NSW Health’s self isolation guideline.

Monitor your child for symptoms

While your child is in self-isolation, monitor for any new symptoms, particularly fever (37.5°C or higher), cough or shortness of breath (difficulty breathing). Other symptoms of COVID-19 include tiredness; aches and pains; diarrhoea; headache; loss of taste or smell. If symptoms develop, seek help as soon as possible by seeing a doctor (call ahead to alert your doctor about the possibility of COVID-19 before visiting) or attending a COVID-19 testing clinic. If your child tests negative, they must still isolate for the full 14-day period as COVID-19 may take up to 14 days before symptoms develop.

When can my child go back to school or childcare?

If your child remains well after 14 days, they do not require any tests before leaving isolation and returning to school or childcare.

Do others in my household need to self-isolate?

No, generally other people in the household of a close contact do not need to self-isolate. However, in some families it may be very difficult to isolate children from other family members, either due to the age/behaviour of this child or their siblings, or the physical constraints of the home. Siblings who cannot be effectively isolated from the child who is a close contact should not attend school or childcare during your child’s isolation period. Similarly a parent who cannot isolate from a child who is a close contact should not attend work.

Additional precautions may also be necessary if you and/or a household member work(s) in a high risk setting (aged care facility, hospital, correctional facility, disability services) and are unable to effectively isolate from the child.

Scenario 1 – family not able to effectively isolate within the household

I have three children: a daughter aged 2 years who goes to childcare and two sons aged 6 and 8 years who go to primary school. Due to a confirmed case of COVID-19 at my daughter’s childcare centre, she is considered as close contact and must isolate for 14 days.

We have decided that it will not be possible for our household to effectively isolate from each other within the home, due to our children being so young. My sons will therefore not attend school for the duration of my daughter’s 14-day isolation period. Once the 14 day period has passed and all have remained well, they will go back to childcare and school.

Scenario 2 – family able to effectively isolate within the household

I have two children: a son who is 14 years old and a daughter who 17 years old. Both attend the same high school. A friend of my daughter at school was diagnosed with COVID-19 and my daughter is considered a close contact and must isolate for 14 days. My son is not required to isolate as he did not have contact with my daughter’s friend who is the case.

As my children are older and our house is large enough, we have decided to isolate my daughter from the rest of the family for the isolation period. My son will therefore be able to continue going to school.

As a parent or carer of a close contact, will I require clearance from NSW Health to return to work?

Following 14 days isolation, if you remain well then you do not require any tests before being released from isolation.

There is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at my child’s school/childcare and my child has not been identified as a close contact

Does my child need to self-isolate?

If your child did not have any significant close contact with a person who was infectious with COVID-19 and is feeling well, they do not need to self-isolate and can go to school or childcare as normal.

However, please look out for any new symptoms, particularly fever (37.5°C or higher), cough or shortness of breath (difficulty breathing). If symptoms develop, seek help as soon as possible by seeing a doctor (call ahead to alert your doctor about the possibility of COVID-19 before visiting) OR attending a COVID-19 testing clinic. If your child is tested for COVID-19, they should isolate at home and not attend school or childcare until you receive the test result.

Do others in my household need to self-isolate?

No, they are not required to self-isolate.​​

Support services

  • National Family Violence Counselling Service link  1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
    Provides advice on safety for people experiencing domestic violence
  • Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
    A crisis support service that provides short term support at any time for people who are having difficulty coping or staying safe
  • Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Line: 1800 512 348
    Provides ways to look after your mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic
  • Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
    Provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
    A free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25 years.
​​​​
Page Updated: Thursday 23 July 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW