Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on re-opening school age childcare services

Non-statutory guidance for school age childcare providers in the local authority, private and third sectors to support a safe re-opening of these settings.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on re-opening school age childcare services
Test and protect

Test and protect

Managers and staff must be aware of Test and Protect arrangements should someone become unwell. If a member of the staff team has symptoms, they must contact the NHS to arrange to be tested at 0800 028 2816 or You can find more information on the COVID-19 Test and Protect webpage.

All school age childcare settings are considered complex settings and cases will be prioritised and escalated to specialist local health protection teams.

All parents should be asked to mention childcare arrangements if contacted by or contacting the Test and Protect service.

If a parent/carer or staff member is contacted by a contact tracer and told to self-isolate for fourteen days, the person should leave the setting to self-isolate at home straight away and, if possible, wear a face covering on route and avoid public transport. The Scottish Government has published advice for employers on how to support people who are asked to self-isolate.  

If a child or staff member tests positive, the contact tracer will take into account the close contacts the person has had within the setting.

It will be important that childcare providers keep clear records of children, adults and staff attending their settings, and of the composition of groups undertaking activities.  These records will help to ensure rapid response and contact tracing should a positive case occur. This will enable employers to maintain records on staffing capacity in individual settings and to make judgements about whether it will be necessary to close settings temporarily due to high levels of staff absence. All providers should plan as much as possible to minimise the operational impact of individual staff or groups of staff being required to self-isolate.

Outbreak Management

The management of outbreaks of infectious disease in settings is led by local health protection teams (HPTs) alongside partners, such as local authorities and the care inspectorate. Managers should ensure before opening that they know how to contact their local HPT and who will usually be responsible for doing so.

If settings have two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 within 14 days, or an increase in background rate of absence due to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, they may have an outbreak. In this situation settings should make prompt contact with their local HPT and local authority. If an outbreak is then confirmed, settings should work with their local HPT to manage it. The HPT will make recommendations to the incident management team on self-isolation and on testing of children and staff and the arrangements for doing this.

If an outbreak is confirmed, settings should work with their local HPT to manage it. Actions that settings may need to be involved in include (but are not restricted to):

  • attendance at multi-agency incident management team meetings;
  • communications with children, parents/carers and staff;
  • providing records of school layout / attendance / groups; and
  • implementing enhanced infection, prevention and control measures.

The HPT will make recommendations to the incident management team on self-isolation and on testing of children and staff and the arrangements for doing this. Any discussion of possible closures should take place between settings and local HPTs. Settings should maintain appropriate records to support outbreak control measures, e.g. child and staff attendance, details of groups, visitors, and clinically vulnerable/extremely vulnerable children who are attending settings.

Managers must notify the Care Inspectorate in the event of any confirmed or suspected outbreak of an infectious disease. Notifications and guidance are available through eForms.


Enhanced surveillance programme

Scotland has an excellent programme of community surveillance. This allows us to monitor actively trends in the pandemic, both nationally and more locally.

There will also be specific surveillance in respect of educational staff and children/young people.  This will draw on Covid related information from a range of sources and will cover all school ages and ELC changes.

We are also developing an additional surveillance programme within a sample of schools. This would involve working over a period of time with substantial numbers of children and workers at a representative sample of schools throughout Scotland, using repeated PCR/serology testing and survey data to establish symptoms and infections in the school population to inform the ongoing development of guidance. The principal focus of this at least initially would be children, young people and staff in S4, S5 and S6.  Participation would be voluntary and careful consideration is being given to ensuring acceptability in school populations.

Additionally, an additional surveillance study will look at risk in different occupational groups which will improve our understanding of the likelihood of COVID-19 infection and illness within the education workforce, and the effectiveness of measures to reduce transmission.

Taken together, these sources will allow regular reporting on indicators such as: overall incidence and swab positivity for Scotland; incidence and swab positivity for school-age children; number and proportion of all cases that are among school workers; hot spots by local authority area; number of clusters or outbreaks that are under investigation within educational settings; and, if feasible, antibody prevalence among children and school workers.

These data will inform decision-makers at different levels as they consider any adjustments to make to arrangements – including this guidance – or any investigations to be conducted at certain localities to explore what local responses are required.

First published: 30 Jul 2020 Last updated: 30 Jul 2020 -