Coronavirus - Advice for children's education and care services

The Department of Education is working with the Ministry of Health to monitor and respond to the international novel coronavirus situation.

02 February 2020

Advice for services, parents and carers

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee have now updated their advice noting the increasing (but still relatively small) number of cases in provinces outside Hubei province and now resulting increased risk posed from travellers from all of mainland China.

In line with this updated position as of Sunday 2 February 2020 our advice on exclusion for children and staff is as follows:

  • Any child or staff arriving in Australia from 1 February 2020 who has been in, or transited through, mainland China (not just Hubei province) is excluded from early childhood education and care services for 14 days from the date they left mainland China (as the novel coronavirus' incubation period can be as long as two weeks).
  • Any confirmed case of novel coronavirus will be excluded until they are medically cleared to return.
  • Close contact of a confirmed case of novel coronavirus will be excluded for 14 days since last contact with the confirmed case.
  • Any child or staff arriving before 1 February 2020 our previous advice remains that students and staff who were in Hubei province are excluded from early childhood education and care services for 14 days, and those who were in the rest of China are requested to not attend early childhood education and care services for a period of 14 days after leaving China.

Close contact is defined as:

  • living in the same household with a person with confirmed coronavirus
  • 15 minutes of face-to-face contact with a person with confirmed coronavirus in any setting
  • sharing a closed space with a person with confirmed coronavirus for more than 2 hours.

The Ministry of Health has processes in place to identify any close contacts of cases confirmed in Australia. Advice about not attending early childhood and child care services would be provided to these close contacts by the Ministry of Health.

All staff and children who have returned from Hubei province in the last 14 days and those who have returned from mainland China on and from 1 February 2020 are required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. This means:

  • If the person is sharing the home with others, as much as possible, they should stay in a different room from other people or be separated as much as possible.
  • Wear a surgical mask when they are in the same room as another person and when seeking medical care.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • Make sure they do not share a room with people who are at risk of severe disease, such as elderly people and those who have heart, lung or kidney conditions, and diabetes.
  • Visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home should not visit while they are in quarantine.

Children and staff who returned to Australia from mainland China more than 14 days ago and have shown no symptoms are able to return to their early childhood education and care service.

We appreciate the complexity that changes in advice can have in the management of your early childhood education and care services and thank you for your leadership at this difficult time.

In accordance with normal protocols staff and children who are unwell with respiratory illness should remain at home until symptoms resolve.

The Department of Education will continue to work with the Ministry of Health to monitor and respond to the unfolding international novel coronavirus situation.

The NSW Ministry of Health has advice and resources about novel coronavirus in English and Mandarin.

As per the National Law and Regulations governing all children's education and care services, you must report outbreaks of infectious disease to:

  • Your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055
  • The NSW Regulatory Authority - for reporting requirements visit the NSW Department of Education website or on 1800 619 113 (toll-free)
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