Worldwide, relatively few children have been reported with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Children become less seriously ill and almost never need to be hospitalised because of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. See the overview of the COVID-19 epidemiological situation in the Netherlands.

Direct links:

Contagiousness increases with age

In general, the younger the children, the less significant the role they play in spreading the virus. This applies to the original virus variant and to the more contagious virus variants. However, the more contagious variants involve more transmission of the virus in all age groups, compared to the old variants. Read more about the spread of the virus.

Spread of the virus at school and outside of school 

The virus will continue to circulate for the time being, so it is important to follow the hygiene rules as well as possible. This applies everywhere, including at school. In addition, schools have taken precautions, with the aim of preventing transmission. The service document for childcare and primary education and the service document for secondary education (in Dutch) describe what the schools are doing to reduce the risk of the virus spreading among children and staff. These measures are based on advice from RIVM.

Infections at school 

The Municipal Public Health Service (GGD) does source and contact tracing if there has been an infection in the class or at school. As of 20 September 2021, a single infection in a childcare group or primary school class does not mean that the entire group or class has to be quarantined. If there are outbreaks involving multiple infections in the same class, the GGD may advise testing or quarantine. This is not a general guideline that applies in all situations, but will be specific to each situation.

Students and employees in secondary education, vocational education (MBO), higher professional education (HBO) and university are advised to use a preventative self-test 2x a week if they are not protected against COVID-19.

When to go to school or childcare, when to stay home

Information on when to keep your child home from childcare or primary school can be found at Government.nl.
Children and adolescents in vocational education (MBO) or higher education are subject to the
basic rules for staying home that apply to everyone.
Children with underlying medical problems do not appear to have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 than healthy children. If you are unsure, please consult your child’s doctor or paediatrician and the school management.
If a family member belongs to a
risk group, consult with the doctor and the school management.

For more information on guidelines for the education sector, see Government.nl.

Hygiene in childcare facilities and schools

Good hygiene and hand hygiene help prevent COVID-19 from spreading. There are separate hygiene guidelines for:

See also Hygiene and COVID-19.

Ventilation and airing in childcare facilities and schools

Ventilation is important for a comfortable and healthy indoor climate in childcare facilities and schools. Read more about properly ventilating classrooms and other indoor areas in the ‘Protocol on education at school during corona’ (in Dutch) and the ‘ventilation guidelines’ (in Dutch).  It is also important to follow the basic rules for everyone.  For example, wash your hands regularly and stay home if you have symptoms.

For more information:

More information for schools

The website of the Dutch Government offers more information on the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in the context of various types of childcare and education. The site also provides detailed information for schools, such as protocols to minimise the spread of the coronavirus:

  • Childcare
  • Primary education and special education
  • Secondary education
  • Secondary vocational education (MBO)
  • Universities of applied sciences and research universities
  • Rules for distancing

RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment .nl also has more information for pregnant workers.

Researching the role of children in the spread of the virus

RIVM is conducting various studies on the role of children in the spread of SARS-CoV-2:

  • RIVM is conducting a detailed study on the reports and outbreaks of COVID-19 infections received from the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs) in the Netherlands.
  • RIVM is working closely with the monitoring stations operated by the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL) to investigate the registrations provided by GPs on patients with flu-like symptoms who are tested for COVID-19.
  • RIVM is conducting research among  COVID-19 patients and their family contacts in the Netherlands. The results of the first part of this study are now known. The second part of the family study started recently, focusing on households where the child was the first infected person in the family.
  • RIVM has launched a study on SARS-CoV-2 infections in primary schools.
  • RIVM has taken blood samples to test for antibodies against COVID-19 in the PIENTER Corona Study.
  • RIVM is keeping track of relevant literature on children and COVID-19. This also includes studies that have been conducted in other countries.

Research results

Go to the page presenting the latest research results on children, schools and COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions

What about the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and my child’s vaccinations in the context of the National Immunisation Programme?

It is very important for your child to receive the usual vaccinations from the National Immunisation Programme. If, for example, you postpone the 14-month shots, there is a risk that your child will contract diseases such as measles and meningococcal meningitis. These are highly contagious diseases that still occur in the Netherlands. If you or your child has cold symptoms or a fever, or if someone in the family has a fever, please contact the well-baby clinic.

Would you like to know more about vaccinations and the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2? Go to the frequently asked questions on the site of the National Immunisation Programme (in Dutch).