Managing COVID-19 safely
As we continue to live with COVID-19, it is important that services refer to current
Queensland Health guidance and check regularly for updates on how to safely manage COVID-19.
All services have responsibilities under both the National Regulations and the
Public Health Act 2005 to manage infectious diseases, including COVID-19, safely and effectively.
As set out in Queensland Health's
Time out poster – Keeping your child and other kids healthy (PDF, 1.2MB), COVID-19 remains a condition that requires a person to be excluded from a service.
Queensland Health has published
guidelines for a person diagnosed with COVID-19 or symptoms of acute respiratory infection which replaces the
Management of Diagnosed Cases of COVID-19 and Close Contacts Direction (No. 5).
guidelines for a close contact in Queensland – COVID-19 also provides information for those who have been in contact with a person who has tested positive to COVID-19.
Services are encouraged to read and apply these guidelines to support their exclusion policies and practice, as they apply to any person who has symptoms of an acute respiratory infection or has tested positive to COVID-19 within the past 7 days.
As COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease, providers are reminded that the requirements concerning infectious diseases under the
National Quality Framework are applicable.
National Regulation 77 requires the approved provider to implement safe health and hygiene practices at all times.
In the event a child enrolled at the service, or a staff member, tests positive to COVID-19, particular attention should be given to National Regulation 88, which requires the approved provider to take reasonable steps to prevent the spread of an infectious disease and to notify parents and guardians of an occurrence within the centre. Further, National Regulation 173(2)(g) requires the visible display at the service of a notice of an occurrence of an infectious disease.
There are similar requirements for Queensland Education and Care services under the
Education and Care Services (ECS) Regulation, namely regulations 14, 24 and 68.
Reporting confirmed cases of COVID-19
From 31 October 2022, all legislative requirements regarding notifications and waivers apply normally.
Queensland service providers need to notify the Regulatory Authority of ‘any circumstance arising at the service that poses a risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of a child or children’ in accordance with requirements under regulation 175(2)(c).
Guide to the National Quality Framework lists 'an outbreak of an infectious disease' as an example of such a circumstance.
In Queensland, we follow Queensland Health advice regarding notifiable infectious diseases and only expect services to notify us of an 'outbreak’ if they have a requirement to notify their Public Health Unit (PHU).
For example, in relation to gastrointestinal illness, Queensland Health requires approved providers to notify their PHU if there are 2 or more cases in a service and the regulatory authority should therefore also be notified of this circumstance under regulation 175(2)(c).
In relation to COVID-19, as with influenza, there is no requirement to notify your PHU of positive cases, but the PHU is there to provide advice and support if you are concerned about cases or potential transmission in your service.
You are therefore not required to notify positive cases of COVID-19 to the regulatory authority in Queensland under regulation 175(2)(c).
Childcare services are considered essential services and are encouraged to continue to operate wherever possible. Read more in the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) statements of
6 April 2020 and
15 November 2021.
Any decision to close early childhood services should be based on advice from Queensland Health, including assessing any risks to the health and welfare of staff, students and children.
Where management of COVID-19 cases is impacting on service operations—for example, causing approved providers to temporarily close, change operating hours or reduce numbers—notification requirements under regulations 175(2)(a) and (b) apply as normal.
Temporary closures and reduced numbers of children
Approved providers must
notify the department if a service is affected by COVID-19 and is required to temporarily close or reduce the number of children attending; see regulation 175(2)(b).
Services regulated under the National Law should submit a notification of incident via the
National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS). Please choose the 'Health emergency' and 'COVID-19' options from the drop-down lists so the closure is reported as COVID-related.
It is important to inform the Regulatory Authority via the NQA ITS when the service re-opens or the reduction in capacity no longer applies.
For step-by-step guidance on how to lodge a notification about a closure due to COVID-19 via the NQA ITS, read the
NQA ITS Quick Reference Guide (PDF, 1.4MB).
Outside school hours care services
Outside school hours care (OSHC) services based on a state school site may continue to operate when a school is closed, unless directed to close on advice from Queensland Health.
Early Years Services
Any decision to close Early Years Services should be based on advice from Queensland Health, including assessing any risks to the health and welfare of staff, parents and carers, and children.
It is important that Early Years Services consider business continuity planning to ensure that children and their families are able to access services.
Ensuring continuity of service may mean changes in the way activities are offered, for example, managing risks by reducing the size of groups, maintaining contact with families by phone and using technology to communicate with families wherever possible.
Face masks are not mandatory in ECEC services. However, mask wearing may be recommended by Queensland Health guidelines for a person diagnosed with COVID-19 or symptoms of an acute respiratory infection and worn as additional protection to help prevent transmission of COVID-19. Mask recommendations may also apply to close contacts – check the
latest guidelines for details.
Anyone who chooses to wear a mask in a workplace should be supported to do so.
Children or staff showing signs of illness or feeling unwell must stay at home.
If a child is showing signs of illness, the service will contact the parent or carer to collect them.
Public Health Act 2005, there are a number of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, that require people to be excluded from early childhood education and care services. Refer to
Queensland Health's Time Out poster – Keeping your child and other kids healthy (PDF, 1.2MB) for more information.
For guidance on when to send unwell children, educators or staff home from early childhood services, read the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC)
preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services and Queensland Health's
guidelines for a person diagnosed with COVID-19 or symptoms of an acute respiratory infection in Queensland.
Regulatory service visits
Monitoring and other service visits provide support to services and help to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of children.
Authorised officers conduct visits according to Queensland Health protocols and follow AHPPC and Safe Work Australia guidance on hygiene and physical distancing of adults.
Authorised officers can advise of the steps they will take to meet these protocols and may ask about any specific procedures that apply in the service.
If you have any concerns about a regulatory visit, please
contact your local regional office.