Preparing your service for COVID-19, and preventing the spread

This page has been developed to assist and support early education and care services to prepare for, and prevent a potential outbreak of COVID-19 infection.

For simple and effective ways for educators and other staff to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 that are aligned to the policies and procedures on illness and infectious disease documented in the best-practice tool Staying Healthy - Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services:

Infectious diseases - responsibilities

All services have current policies and procedures in place to respond to infectious diseases and illness that may occur at the service as documented in the best-practice tool Staying Healthy - Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services.

  • Ensure that you review your service’s policies and procedures for dealing with infectious diseases and illness (regulations 85, 88 and 168). You can seek advice from your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.
  • Remember to replace any out-of-date or used items you need to manage infectious diseases and illness, for example, additional soap, hand sanitiser and gloves.

Influenza vaccinations

  • While there is no vaccination for COVID-19, in order to reduce the impact on the public health system, the AHPPC has recommended that staff at early childhood education and care services should be vaccinated for influenza, however it is not a requirement under the National Law and Regulations.
  • If this becomes a requirement under a Public Health Order in NSW we will notify you.
  • In the interests of the health and wellbeing of all staff and children at your service we encourage you to get the influenza vaccine if there are no contraindications for you to do so. Children under five years old are entitled to a free influenza vaccine. Some employers also subsidise vaccines for staff.
  • For the most up-to-date information about the influenza vaccination, including people who are eligible to receive the vaccination for free, visit the NSW Health website.

Communication with families and the community

  • If not already in place, establish and review communication channels for sharing information on COVID-19 with your families and communities. For example, update your service’s website or Facebook page with current advice and links to information about COVID-19.
  • See maintaining your connections with families and learning from home for strategies on how educators can support families during the prolonged absence of children or service closure.
  • Provide information and advice to support educators and staff who may be responding to questions from parents and families.

Promotion of good hygiene practices and infection control

The best way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is by continuing effective hygiene practices:

  • Review your service’s policies and procedures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases at the service (regulation 88).
  • Provide educators and staff with updates on your service’s policies and procedures, and help them to implement these across the service.
  • Promote and remind children and staff that regular handwashing with soap is the single most effective way to reduce the spread of germs that cause respiratory disease. Provide appropriate handwashing soap.
  • Display health and hygiene promotional materials that show the best ways to reduce the risk of acquiring and spreading respiratory infections. Health and hygiene support information, including fact sheets and posters, is available from NSW Health to help promote personal hygiene practices within education and care services. These posters and/or fact sheets can be displayed in prominent places around your service, such as the kitchen, hand wash and toilet areas, and learning spaces.

Social distancing measures

The more space between people, the harder it is for the virus to spread, so another way to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, is to implement physical distancing measures, such as:

  • Encourage staff to keep their distance from others wherever possible
  • Cease non-essential activities (like excursions) that involve close personal contact
  • Implement controls to reduce direct contact with others

Additional simple and effective ways for educators and other staff to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 are detailed in Prevent the spread of COVID-19: A guide for early childhood education and care services (PDF, 438KB).

Risk management planning

  • Identify children with compromised immunity or complex health care needs and work with families to update any medical management, risk-minimisation and communications plans as required (regulations 90 and 168).
  • Consider, within your learning programs and activities, having regular time for handwashing for all children and staff.
  • Identify a suitable area, additional and separate to the regular sick bay, for children who may be showing cold and flu like symptoms to await pick up by their parent/carer.
  • Consider canvassing casual educators and staff for availability in the event of critical educator and staff absences.

Service operation and management

  • NSW Health is the agency that will assist you to make decisions about whether or not you should close if staff or children have been exposed to, or diagnosed with, COVID-19. As with any other contagious disease, you should contact Health and follow their advice. Your local public health unit can be contacted on 1300 066 055.
  • If you are directed to close by NSW Health, you should notify the Regulatory Authority as soon as possible via NQA ITS or by calling our information and enquiries team on 1800 619 113.
  • In situations where staff members are required to self-isolate, you can apply to the Regulatory Authority for waivers for qualifications and/or ratios. Fees for waivers relating to COVID-19 will be waived or refunded and applications will be expedited to minimise disruptions to service provision. You can apply for waivers through NQA ITS. For assistance, contact our information and enquiries team on 1800 619 113.
  • You are required to report any risk or incident of infectious disease to:
    • NSW Regulatory Authority (NSW Department of Education)
    • Your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055

The Department views a confirmed case of COVID-19 as a serious incident and as such requires notification as soon as practicable within 24 hours.

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