Managing coronavirus (COVID-19) in education and childcare settings

What measures education and childcare settings should be prepared to introduce to manage coronavirus (COVID-19).

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Applies to England



This document applies to:

  • early years providers
  • schools (including independent schools) and alternative provision
  • 16 to 19 academies
  • further education providers (FE)
  • higher education providers (HE)
  • breakfast clubs and after-school clubs
  • holiday clubs and other out-of-school settings

The contingency framework describes the principles of managing local outbreaks of COVID-19 in education and childcare settings. It covers all types of measures that settings should be prepared for.

Within the framework you will find guidance highlighting the actions required from the start of the autumn term. It also sets out thresholds for managing COVID-19 cases and when settings should consider seeking public health advice.

In light of this advice education and childcare settings should revisit their plans for managing COVID-19, outlining how they would operate if any of the measures described within the contingency framework needed to be introduced.

Published 27 November 2020
Last updated 24 February 2022 + show all updates
  1. We’ve updated the guidance to reflect new public health guidance on tracing close contacts, isolation and when someone has symptoms or a positive test.

  2. Updated to align with the Plan B announcement on 19 January.

  3. Updated advice on face coverings and baseline measures.

  4. Clarified the guidance on daily testing.

  5. Updated to reflect that daily rapid testing is now recommended for contacts of COVID-19.

  6. Updated guidance on contact tracing and isolation, face coverings and testing of higher education students.

  7. Updated guidance on the use of face coverings in communal areas in secondary schools, as part of protective measures to manage local outbreaks.

  8. Updated the advice on those previously identified as clinically vulnerable people, shielding and regular testing, and clarified guidance on contacting the NHS Test and Trace self isolation hub.

  9. We have updated the contingency framework ahead of the autumn term, in line with wider government guidelines. The updated framework includes the new thresholds at which you might consider seeking public health advice and taking further action to reinforce measures already in place, updates to the circumstances in which local health protection teams or directors of public health might recommend you introduce some additional measures, and annexed guidance for managing cases in settings from 23 August.

  10. We have converted the guidance to HTML to make it easier to read.

  11. This guidance has been updated to reference enhanced response areas and information on the principles of managing local outbreaks including the types of measures that settings should be prepared for, who can recommend the measures, when measures should be lifted and how decisions are made.

  12. Converted guidance from PDF to HTML. We have not changed any of the guidance from the update on 13 May 2021.

  13. This guidance has been updated with further information on testing and face covering measures.

  14. First published.