Managing illness in schools and early childhood education and care services

One of the most important things we can do to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community is to stay at home when we are unwell, even when we have the mildest of symptoms.

Download an simplified English version of this page:

What you need to know

If a child is unwell, even with the mildest of symptoms, they must stay at home.

If a child becomes unwell during the day, they must be collected from school or early childhood education and care (ECEC) as soon as possible.

If a child has any of the symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, they should get tested and they must remain at home until they receive their results

Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills or sweats
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath
  • runny nose
  • loss of sense of smell or taste.

In certain circumstances headache, muscle soreness, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea may also be considered symptoms.

For further advice:

  • call the 24-hour COVID-19 hotline 1800 675 398
  • call a general practitioner
  • visit: Where to get tested.

A child must stay at home until they are symptom-free, even if their COVID-19 test is negative

If a person has tested positive for COVID-19 or been identified as a close contact they must isolate/quarantine until they receive clearance from DH.

Children with persistent symptoms due to underlying conditions such as hay fever or asthma whose symptoms are clearly typical of their condition can continue to attend ECEC or school.

They should be tested for COVID-19 if they develop symptoms that are different to or worse than their usual symptoms. They should consider getting a medical certificate from their GP to attend ECEC or school if they have persistent symptoms that may overlap with symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough or runny nose.

Younger children (pre-school up to Grade 2) may have prolonged post-viral symptoms such as a runny nose or cough and may return to school or ECEC following a negative COVID-19 test even if they are not completely free of symptoms.

They will need a medical certificate from their GP to confirm they are otherwise well or have recovered from their acute illness.

For information on the minimum periods students and children need to stay at home for other conditions, refer to the DH school exclusion table.

Children do not need a medical certificate before returning to school or ECEC

Once symptoms have cleared, there is no requirement from the Department of Education and Training or DH for children or students to have a medical certificate before they return to school or ECEC.

Reviewed 31 May 2021

24/7 Coronavirus Hotline

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

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

Was this page helpful?