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Scottish childcare and nurseries and coronavirus

As the pandemic moves into a new phase and we learn to live with the virus, here you can find out what early learning and childcare settings are doing to keep everyone safe. 

For the latest guidance, visit the gov.scot and NHS Inform websites.

You can find information on what to do if your family has COVID-19 symptoms in BSL, audio, Easy Read and different languages here.

What is my child’s nursery doing to keep everyone safe?

Young children are less likely to become unwell from COVID-19. That said, there has been a great deal of work at each ELC setting across Scotland to make sure they’re safe. 

For example, settings are likely to be:

  • increasing the amount of ventilation in the setting
  • helping children maintain hand and respiratory hygiene
  • cleaning surfaces and toys regularly
  • making more use of outdoor space.

Your child’s setting will be happy to talk you through all the procedures they have in place to help you feel more comfortable.

You can find out more about what ELC settings are doing to keep everyone safe on the gov.scot website.

Are ELC staff tested for coronavirus?

ELC staff are no longer required to test themselves for COVID-19 twice a week. This decision has been informed by expert public health advice and it takes into account the latest evidence about the state of the pandemic, including the effectiveness of the vaccination programme. 

Will my child have to wear a face covering to nursery?

Children do not need to wear a face covering. Our page on face coverings offers further advice. If your child is over 5 and would like to wear a face covering, then you should speak to your nursery setting.

What should I do if my child has coronavirus symptoms?

It’s still important to look out for symptoms of any respiratory illness amongst your own family.

  • Children and young people with mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough, who are otherwise well, can continue to attend their education setting.
  • Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can go back to school, college or childcare, and resume normal activities when they no longer have a high temperature and they are well enough to attend.

This guidance reflects the fact that children and young people generally have a higher likelihood than adults of regular instances of respiratory symptoms from non-COVID illnesses.

You can find out more at the NHS Inform website.

What happens if my child comes into close contact with someone who tests positive? Do they need to isolate?

Children and adults no longer need to isolate or take daily tests if they come into close contact with someone with coronavirus symptoms. However, if your child feels poorly or has a temperature they should stay at home until they feel better.

You can find out more at the NHS Inform website.

Should I tell the nursery or childminder if my child has COVID-19 symptoms?

Yes, it’s important to let the nursery know if your child is not attending and why.

This is because identifying outbreaks relies on good absence reporting. The reason for staff and child absence should be recorded and reviewed by the setting regularly. Where an unusually high number of absences for a similar cause are noted, an outbreak may be suspected.

Can I come into the nursery with my child?

Visitors including parents and carers can now attend settings. Your child’s nursery may have their own rules so you may wish to get in touch with them first before attending. 

Why is my child spending so much time outside?

Young children learn through play. Early years practitioners are very skilled at creating opportunities for children to engage with the curriculum through play, both outdoors and indoors. Playing, learning and having fun outdoors helps to improve wellbeing and resilience. It’s great for children’s physical and mental health, and also provides children with the opportunity to develop a lifelong appreciation of the natural world. There’s more and more evidence about the positive impact that learning outdoors can have on educational attainment.

Won't my child get sick if they play outside in all weathers?

It's not true that being outside in cold or wet weather will make you more likely to catch a cold or flu. With suitable clothing, children can be outside in all weathers, exploring the natural world and building their physical and mental resilience. Spending time outdoors is even more beneficial during the coronavirus pandemic, as it's harder for the virus to spread outside.

My child comes home from nursery with dirty clothes when they play outside. What can I do?

Whether children play outside or inside, they are often likely to get their clothes dirty. If it's possible, send your child to nursery in clothes which they can get messy in. If it’s difficult to afford outdoor clothing, or you have concerns about them getting messy, speak to your nursery, as they might be able to help. Many nurseries may also have outdoor jackets or play suits which children can put on to go outdoors. You could also see if you're eligible for a Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment, which can be spent on items like a coat or boots.