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Managing a confirmed case of COVID-19 in early childhood education and care services

Process to follow if there's a confirmed case of COVID-19 at your early childhood service, and steps you can take now to prepare.

While services are implementing risk mitigation strategies, you should be prepared in the unlikely event a child or staff member has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Process for closing

Below is an outline of the process should this occur, and steps you can take now to prepare.

1. The Department of Health will notify the service of a confirmed case

The Department of Health (DH) will notify the service of a confirmed case of COVID-19 and will advise if the service needs to close or can remain operating.

A dedicated and specialised team has been established in DH to provide end-to-end support for services affected by a confirmed COVID-19 case.

Services will be assigned a case manager to ensure services are supported throughout the process.

2. Service will inform families

While services will manage communications with families, the Department has developed some resources to assist services with initial communication, including a template letter for families and FAQs.

Download the communication pack for early childhood services in case of closure (docx - 79.53kb)for advice and messages to respond to your community.

3. Lodge a notification through the NQAITS

Services are requested to lodge a notification through the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS) or call 1300 307 415.

4. Arrange a deep clean

Services arrange a deep clean. Detailed advice is available below about cleaning and disinfecting after a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been identified at a service. This advice has been developed by the DH.

The technical information should be provided to cleaners contracted to clean services.

Cleaning and disinfecting after a confirmed case of COVID-19 factsheet.

5. Update your emergency contact details

Please make sure you have up-to-date emergency contact details in the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS).

These details will be used if the Department of Education and Training or DH need to contact the service after hours.

Scope of closures

A majority of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services have operated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

If your service is directed to close as a preventative measure, you'll be advised directly and given detailed advice to support you through this process.

If individual services are closed, they'll be listed on: Emergency closures.

Reporting a closure

If your service closes, you're required to report the closure to the regulatory authority.

Actions for services under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (National Law)

All services, including family day care, are required to notify the regulatory authority within 24 hours of any incident that requires the approved provider to close or reduce the number of children attending the service for a period.

You need to lodge a notification through the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS) within 24 hours of closure.

Actions for services operating under the Children's Services Act 1996 (Children's Services Act)

Services must advise the Regulatory Authority of service closure.

Email licensed.childrens.services@edumail.vic.gov.au within 48 hours of closure.

Strengthened process for monitoring COVID-19 close contacts

DH continues to strengthen its system for the identification, notification and monitoring of COVID-19 close contacts (primary and secondary).

ECEC services will now be advised if a child at their service has been identified by DH as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Close contacts are notified directly by DH regarding requirements for quarantine and testing and should not attend an ECEC service until they are advised by DH that their quarantine has ended. A DH clearance letter will need to be provided as proof the quarantine has ended before the child can return to their service.

Services will be asked to:

  • confirm that the child identified as a close contact is not attending their service during this time. If they are attending, they must be sent home. The service is not required to close, unless directed to do so by DH.
  • provide support to the child and their family during the quarantine period to facilitate continued engagement in learning and address wellbeing needs.

Further information – including a factsheet – on primary close contacts, secondary close contacts and quarantine periods is available on the DH website

Self-isolating as a close contact

Where a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified at your service, they're required to quarantine at home and not return to your service or any other ECEC service for 14 days from last contact with the confirmed case. DH will advise the quarantine period. 

In addition, close contacts are required by DH to undergo testing on day 11 of the quarantine period. In limited circumstances where the close contact cannot get tested on day 11, they will remain in quarantine for a total of 24 days from their last exposure to the virus.

In some cases, DH may direct secondary contacts (i.e. close or household contacts of close contacts) to quarantine for the same time period as the close contact. DH will advise household members of close contacts if any action is required.

Reviewed 18 February 2021

Coronavirus Victoria

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If you suspect you may have coronavirus (COVID-19) call the dedicated hotline – open 24 hours, 7 days.

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