In the 95th OMT (January 2021), supplementary measures were recommended to reduce transmission in childcare and at primary schools in response to the high incidence in society at that time and with the aim of preventing new variants of SARS-CoV-2. These recommendations to childcare providers and primary schools are presented in this Generic Framework. Guiding principles such as distancing, limiting the number of contacts, following hygiene measures, and the health check are the basis for this framework. These principles are in line with the basic rules for everyone.

In June 2021, the government decided to discontinue the measures limiting contact, including for primary education. This framework has been updated accordingly. 

Purpose of this framework

This framework combines the measures implemented by the Dutch Government with the recommendations of the OMT and RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment for childcare centres and schools that are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. In addition, employees are entitled to safe, healthy working conditions under the Working Conditions Act. See the working conditions catalogue for the relevant professional group for more details: Childcare, Primary Education, Secondary Education.

This framework includes day-care (0-4 years), childcare provided by host parents, pre-school and out-of-school care (0-12 years), primary education, special primary education, special education and secondary education.

Limiting the spread of the coronavirus is achieved by implementing the known principles of COVID-19 control for pupils, parents and staff:

  • source measures: health check, testing policy, quarantine and isolation, and contact and outbreak investigation;
  • collective measures: hygiene measures and sufficient ventilation;
  • individual measures: extra points for attention for staff.

Practical application of this framework

The childcare and education sector can use this generic framework to update existing protocols. Childcare centres and schools are then responsible for creating or updating their own protocol based on this framework and the sector-specific protocol. Their own protocol describes the extent to which the measures are applied and how. In any case, legal requirements must always be met. In addition, childcare centres and schools are responsible for the implementation, execution and monitoring of compliance with the national measures of the Dutch Government, occupational health and safety laws, instructions issued by local authorities such as the Municipal Health Service (GGD), and the recommendations of this generic framework.

Existing guidelines, standards of quality, or laws and regulations on working conditions and other aspects may be applicable within childcare facilities and schools. This includes how hygiene measures or cleaning is organised. These are sometimes stricter or more detailed than this generic framework provided by RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment . Of course the existing guidelines, standards of quality or laws and regulations will take precedence in that case. 

Generic principles for childcare, host parent childcare, pre-school and out-of-school care, primary education, special primary education and special education (for ages 0-12 years)

The following document uses general terms: childcare (day care, pre-school and after-school care and host parent childcare) and school (primary education, special primary education and special education). If a point only applies to a certain organisation, this is explicitly mentioned. In terms of both structure and location, host parent childcare differs from childcare provided in a centre and from education provided in a school. Nevertheless, the following recommendations are also applicable to host parents. 

See the website of the Dutch Government for detailed information on childcare and host parenting and on primary education and special (primary) education (in Dutch).  For a general overview in English, see Government.nl

Health check (triage)

  • For the rules regarding allowing younger children with cold symptoms to attend childcare and primary school, see the Guidance on children with nasal colds (in Dutch).
  • For the rules on quarantine, see Government.nl.
  • Employees must do the health check before starting the activities. If the answer to any of the questions is ‘yes’, then that employee must stay home and get tested.
  • Inform parents/carers of the policy that they will not be allowed to come to the childcare centre or school if they can answer ‘yes’ to any of the questions in the health check.
  • If an employee develops symptoms during the day, that person should go home immediately and get tested. This also applies to a child who, in addition to cold symptoms, also develops symptoms such as coughing, fever and/or shortness of breath while at the childcare centre or school.
     

Testing, quarantine and isolation

Source and contact tracing, outbreak investigation, communication and cooperation with the GGD

The Municipal Health Service (GGD) performs source and contact tracing in the event of a child or staff member with COVID-19. The childcare provider or school can support the GGD in these efforts by pro-actively drafting a step-by-step plan (operational perspective). 

For further details on source and contact tracing, see Protocol on source and contact tracing (in Dutch) and Guidance on contact and outbreak investigation for COVID-19 in children (in Dutch).

  • In addition to a protocol, the childcare provider or school should draft its own step-by-step plan (operational perspective) for infections or outbreaks at school. In that plan, specify the agreements outlined below and how communication with parents will take place. 
  • The GGD has often set up a school team for cooperation with childcare centres and schools. If there is no contact yet, please contact the GGD yourself to establish contact as a childcare provider or school. Even if there have not been any infections at the childcare centre or school yet, it is important to communicate and to consult about cooperation, such as:
    • the (preventive) measures and protocol currently in place at the school and/or childcare centre;
    • the contact person for the childcare centre or school, and the contact person at the GGD. This will often be someone from Child and Youth Health Services (the youth physician or youth nurse);
    • the procedure in the event of an infection at the childcare centre or school;
    • communication between the childcare centre or school and the GGD regarding reports (and notifications of absence due to illness) of employees/children who tested positive for COVID-19;
    • source and contact tracing by the GGD and the role of the childcare centre or school in this context, e.g. keeping track of class schedules and seating plans, and daily attendance lists per class/group;
    • if applicable, the measures in place for quarantine and testing policy;
    • if applicable, the steps to be taken and the decision-making process in the event of multiple infections or outbreaks.
  • Ensure targeted communication from the childcare centre or school to parents regarding the measures and protocol currently in place at the school and/or childcare centre, the procedure in the event of infections at the childcare centre or school, and communication regarding children or staff who tested positive for COVID-19. This should preferably be done in consultation with the GGD.

Steps in the event of an infection or outbreak in a childcare centre or school:

  • If one or more children or employees test positive for COVID-19, it is important that the childcare centre or school board contact the GGD to discuss their action plan and measures. See also the Guidance on contact and outbreak investigation for COVID-19 in children (in Dutch).
  • Ensure good communication directed at employees and parents regarding the procedure in response to the infection(s).

Hygiene measures

The following points are supplementary to the standard hygiene measures in childcare and schools. See also the hygiene guidelines for childcare facilities, kindergartens and after-school childcare, and for primary schools (in Dutch).

  • Ensure that employees and children can all maintain good hand hygiene. Provide soap and water. Facilitate handwashing at least: upon arrival at the childcare centre or school, after playing outside, before preparing or eating food, after going to the toilet, after contact with animals, and when hands are dirty or sticky. An alternative to washing hands with soap and water is to use cleaning wipes intended for hands. See also Hygiene and COVID-19.
  • Communicate about the hygiene measures and have everyone follow them as meticulously as possible: do not touch your face, do not shake hands, always cough or sneeze into your elbow, and use paper tissues to blow your nose and discard them after use.
  • Provide instructions to help the (younger) children learn to wash their hands properly and to maintain cough and sneeze etiquette.
  • Clean touch points, such as door handles, multi-user touchscreens and lesson materials, several times a day with cleaning wipes or soap and water (e.g. with all-purpose cleaner).
  • Make sure that employees have their own dining area / break room / toilet(s) / etc., where they can distance from each other and follow the hygiene measures.
  • Ensure that the toilets are supplied with sufficient (hand) soap and paper towels.
  • Clean the room/facility thoroughly according to the regular cleaning protocol after each working day.
     

Ventilation and indoor climate

  • Ensure that the ventilation complies with the regulations (Building Decree), working conditions catalogues and current guidelines. 
  • Provide sufficient ventilation by leaving windows open at a tilt, by opening ventilation grilles or gaps, or by using mechanical ventilation systems.
  • Air out classrooms and other rooms regularly on a daily basis. This should be done at times when the indoor spaces are not occupied by multiple people. Air out the indoor spaces for 10 to 15 minutes by, for example, opening windows and doors across from each other during the break.
  • See also the LCVS Guidance (in Dutch), Indoor and outdoor environment for primary schools (in Dutch) and Government.nl
     

Extra points for attention for employees

  • Make sure that staff members are aware of the current measures and guidelines within the childcare centre or school.
  • Every childcare centre or school is required to appoint at least one prevention officer. The prevention officer actively works to promote health and safety in the school. For more information about the role of the prevention officer, see RI&E Support Centre (in Dutch).
  • The recommendation is that any work that does not need to be done at the childcare centre or school should be done from home, see Government.nl (in Dutch).
  • Employees should know that they can visit the company doctor for questions about their health in relation to work, even if they are not (yet) experiencing absences from work or symptoms. See the Health and Safety Portal (in Dutch) or Working conditions for employees on Business.gov.nl.
  • Employees who are in a risk group (as explained by RIVM) can, in principle, carry out their normal work as long as their medical situation is stable. For more information, see Points for attention regarding vulnerable employees (in Dutch). In these situations as well, an employee’s options for deployment in the workplace must be assessed on an individual basis, and may need to be tailored to the individual situation. A company doctor must be readily available to answer questions and assess the risks, followed by an advisory opinion presented to the employer on deployment in the workplace and the possible need for work adjustments.
  • For information for pregnant employees, see Pregnancy and COVID-19 and the annex to the COVID-19 guidelines (in Dutch) on Pregnancy, (work) and COVID-19.