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Early years and nursery provision has remained open to all throughout the lockdown. Guidance on action for early years and childcare providers during COVID-19 can be found at: Actions for early years and childcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic (

Childcare settings have their own health and safety risk assessments, and keep them under review.

Everyone is encouraged to collect free lateral flow home-test kits to help to prevent the spread of infection.

Managing cases in early years settings

Self-isolation rules for close contacts in all settings changed on 14 December 2021. Read the government update online.

From 14 December, close contacts who are fully vaccinated (with at least two doses), and close contacts aged between 5 and 18 years, will no longer need to self-isolate if they take rapid lateral flow tests for seven consecutive days and the test results remain negative. Close contacts over 18 years who are not fully vaccinated will still need to isolate for 10 days.

Any close contact who gets a positive result from a lateral flow test during their seven test days should then self-isolate. They do not need to continue taking rapid tests during the isolation period but can take lateral flow tests on day five and six, and if both are negative and they do not have a fever, can end their self-isolation. Read latest self-isolation guidance.

Under-5s do not need to self-isolate after contact with a positive case, and do not need to take part in daily testing of close contacts. They are advised to take a PCR test if the positive case is in their household.

People who are eligible for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment (TTSP) will still be asked to take a confirmatory PCR if they receive a positive LFD result, to enable them to access financial support.


Managing outbreaks in early years settings

The contingency framework describes the principles of managing local outbreaks of COVID-19 in education and childcare settings. Local authorities, directors of public health (DsPH) and UKHSA health protection teams can recommend measures described in the contingency framework in individual education and childcare settings – or a small cluster of settings – as part of their outbreak management responsibilities

If a child under 5 tests positive

If a child under 5 tests positive, they are required to self-isolate for 10 days, as lateral flow testing is not recommended for children under 5 years. However, at parent or guardian discretion, the child may be able to leave self-isolation early if:

  • they do not have a high temperature; and
  • they take an LFD test on day five and six, 24 hours apart, and both are negative

If either of the lateral flow device results on days five or six shows a positive result, they should continue self-isolation until they have two consecutive negative tests, or their 10 full days of isolation is completed.

Under 5s who are household contacts of a positive COVID-19 case are not legally required to self-isolate, but should limit their contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID-19 and arrange for them to take a PCR test as soon as possible.

Sharing personal information

If parents or close contacts ask settings to provide personal information which would breach GDPR or data protection legislation, settings must not provide this information.

In exceptional circumstances, education and childcare settings may be contacted by NHS Test and Trace. This would only happen if it’s deemed necessary by local health protection teams in response to a local outbreak. In this scenario, settings may share proportionate and relevant information as requested by NHS Track and Trace without consent. The sharing of information in these exceptional circumstances doesn’t require consent because it’s allowed by specific legislation. To support this, the existing privacy notices should continue to be in place and be easily accessible.

Safety measures in and around childcare settings

Childcare settings have their own health and safety risk assessments and keep them under review.

Please contact your child’s provider for any questions or concerns related to the safety measures they put in place.


Frequently asked questions