Childcare and COVID-19

Introduction

Keeping childcare and childminding services open during COVID-19 is a Government priority in line with public health advice.

You can also read about services and supports for families during COVID-19.

Your child should not attend crèche if they have any symptoms of COVID-19.

Staying safe in childcare settings

Play pods

Children are grouped in ‘play pods’ which allows them to learn and play in small groups.

The play pods –sometimes called bubbles - allows positive interactions between your child and caregivers, limits the number of people your child has contact with and helps with contact tracing.

If your child becomes unwell

Your child should not attend childcare if your child or a member of your household has symptoms of COVID-19. You should keep your child at home and contact your GP.

If your child becomes unwell, such as with a runny nose, you should observe them at home for 48 hours, to assess whether any further symptoms develop. Any symptoms of concern should be discussed with your GP.

If your child is in childcare and displays symptoms of COVID-19, your childcare provider will arrange for them to be collected and will advise you to contact your GP.

Drop off and pick up

Drop offs and collections are organised to maintain distance between adults and between children from different play-pods.

When you drop off and collect your child from childcare, you should keep physical distance from other parents and staff and between children in different ‘play pods’.

If you must enter the childcare service, such as to settle your child into a new place, you should keep physical distance with other adults where possible. You can use a mask if it is not possible to keep your distance from other adults.

Other changes and further information

Your child must not bring toys from home, but can bring a comfort toy to help them fall asleep. If possible, you should bring a duplicate comfort toy to the childcare setting.

You can find more about supporting your child to be ready for childcare, preschool and school on the Let’s get ready website.

If you are having difficulty with your childcare provider or finding a childcare place you can contact the local County Childcare Committee.

When to keep your child home from childcare

Children aged 3 months to 13 years

If your child is 3 months to 13 years, you should not send your child to childcare if they:

  • Have symptoms of COVID-19
  • Are identified as a household contact of someone with COVID-19
  • Live with someone who is unwell and may have COVID-19

If your child shows symptoms of COVID-19, they must stay home from childcare and get a COVID-19 PCR test. Your child can return to childcare if their test result is negative and your family has followed all public health guidance on keeping your child at home.

If your child is 3 months to 13 years and is a close contact in childcare or outside a household setting, and shows no symptoms of COVID-19, they do not have to restrict their movements and can go to childcare.

If your child is a close contact of someone with COVID-19 in a household setting, and does not have symptoms, they should:

You can read more on the HSE website on when to keep your child home.

Children aged 13 and over

If your child is aged 13 or over is a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, what they must do depends on whether they are vaccinated or not.

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19, you should book a PCR test and keep them at home. The HSE has information about what to do if your child has symptoms of COVID-19.

Aged 13 and over and fully vaccinated

If your child is a household close contact, they must stay home from childcare even if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19. They must restrict their movements for 5 days and do antigen tests.

If your child is a close contact outside a household setting (for example, childcare or sports activities) they do not need to stay home from school but they need to do antigen tests.

They will be sent free antigen tests from the HSE.

Aged 13 and over and not fully vaccinated

If your child is a close contact, they must stay home from school even if they have no symptoms of COVID-19. They must restrict their movements for 14 days and get a PCR test. They can stop restricting their movements if they get a negative PCR test 10 days after they were last in contact with the person who tested positive.

Getting a PCR test

If your GP sends your child for a COVID-19 PCR test, or you book a test online, your child should remain at home until they get a negative (not detected) PCR test result.

  • If they get a negative (not detected) test result your child can return to school when they have no symptoms
  • If they get a positive test result, your child must self-isolate. Public health will provide guidance on the next steps to follow
You can read HSE guide for parents (pdf).

If you have travelled abroad recently, you should follow the international travel guidelines in place for you and your children.

Read HSE guidance on protecting your child from COVID-19. You can read more about testing for COVID-19.

Page edited: 2 December 2021