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Managing COVID-19 In Early Childhood Services

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Managing COVID-19 In Early Childhood Services

The best way to deal with a positive case when it happens is to be as prepared as possible before it happens. The following provides information for early childhood services in NSW that includes Managing Positive Cases, COVID - 19 Contacts Within A Service, RAT, Cleaning, Letter To Contacts and more. 

Ensure you do the following to be prepared:

  • Ensure daily attendance records for staff, children and visitors are up to date – you will need this if you need to determine who was present at the time a positive case was at the service
  • Ensure that phone numbers and email addresses for all staff and families are up to date as you will need to contact them all quickly if you have a positive
  • Ensure you have read through the content on this page to understand the steps required of your service.

Managing Positive Cases

NSW Health has advised that people who are symptomatic or are household contacts of a positive case may rely on the results of a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), instead of awaiting the results of the PCR nose and throat swab from a testing clinic.

You must report a positive Rapid Antigen Test result:

  • within 24 hours of getting the result
  • every time you get a positive result

Only people who are symptomatic and who cannot access a rapid antigen test, or who have been directed as a high priority group by NSW Health, should seek out a PCR nose and throat swab at a testing clinic.

This process is to be used by all services who get a positive case in their service. The steps below should be completed within 24 hours of notification of the positive case.

  • Lodge an I01 - health emergency notification in NQA ITS External link
  • Determine infectious period of positive case (48 hours prior to positive COVID test or from the onset of symptoms, whichever is earlier)
  • Determine contacts.
  • Send all contacts (parents, staff, visitors) the risk of COVID-19 letter and factsheet from NSW Health.
  • Undertake a thorough clean of your service.

Who is a COVID-19 contact in my service?

If there is a positive case in your service, all staff, children and visitors who were in attendance with the case for the 48 hours prior to the positive COVID-19 swab (PCR or Rapid Antigen test), will be deemed a contact.

The risk of onward transmission of COVID-19 changes depending on time and location of exposure. The service is responsible for advising contacts that they have been exposed to a positive case in your service.

Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT)

In order to minimise disruption in education and care settings, NSW Health have endorsed the use of Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) when there are positive COVID-19 case exposures in the service.

Given the NSW Health changes as well as feedback received from services, the department’s distribution of RAT kits is changing.

From this week, services will receive a small supply of RAT kits (for staff use). We have commenced distribution with those services who are currently operational.

This will enable you to maintain continuity of service following a positive case exposure.

  • Services should only utilise the supplied RAT kits if there is a positive case exposure. It is not advisable that they are used pre-emptively or for general surveillance.
  • Services who have already ordered or received a supply will not be included in this initial distribution as it is expected that existing supplies would cover these needs.
  • Where services are not yet operational for 2022, including preschools, mobile services and OSHC services who do not operate Vacation Care, they will receive kits in the first week of operation.
  • Given the prioritisation of equitable distribution to all services, the online form is not currently available for orders. The process for distribution will continue to be reviewed and we will keep you updated of changes.

All early childhood education and care service staff must be vaccinated. Services should also continue to follow COVID-safe guidelines to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of the community.


After a COVID positive case at your service, you will need to undertake a thorough clean and disinfection of all areas

Please note:

  • Your usual cleaning staff can do the cleaning.
  • NSW Health does not require you to use specialised cleaning companies however, you can if you want to.
  • NSW Health does not endorse or recommend any particular cleaning companies.
  • There is no certification process endorsed by the NSW Government for cleaning companies undertaking cleaning and disinfection services after a COVID positive case.
  • You are not required to provide a certificate of cleaning completion.

Positive Cases Returning To Your Service

NSW Health suggests that positive cases from household settings must self-isolate for 7 days from the day they were tested. Positive cases can only leave self-isolation after 7 days if they do not have a sore throat, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath. They do not require medical clearance.


For more information: Managing COVID Cases NSW 

Note: Information correct as of 13 January 2022 for NSW Health

Created On January 13, 2022 Last modified on Sunday, May 15, 2022
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