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 after-school care (4-12 years), primary education, special primary education, special education, secondary education and secondary special 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, sufficient ventilation, distancing and pedestrian flow, limiting the number of contacts in childcare and school (and beyond);
- individual measures: extra points for attention for staff;
- personal protective equipment: the use of face masks that cover the mouth and nose.
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. The protocol for each childcare centre or school 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.
For more information on childcare and host parenting, see also the information on the website of the Dutch Government (only in Dutch).
For more information on primary education and special (primary) education, see also the information at 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.
- 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
- For information on testing children, see the website of the Dutch Government and the Guidance on children with nasal colds (in Dutch).
- For information on testing childcare employees, see Government.nl.
- For information on testing school employees, see Government.nl.
- For the rules on quarantine, see Government.nl.
- For the rules on quarantine for household members (including brothers and sisters), see Government.nl.
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 centre 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 centre 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 on behalf of your childcare centre 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;
- the measures in place for quarantine and testing policy;
- 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).
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
Maintain distance and keep people moving through
Maintaining distance between children amongst themselves and between children and staff is not feasible or advisable in childcare centres, childcare provided by host parents, pre-school and after-school care, primary education, special primary education and special education. Staff (and other adults) must always stay 1.5 metres apart from each other.
Measures to promote distancing between employees:
- Define fixed walking routes within the childcare centre and school and mark them clearly. Arrange walking routes in such a way that employees can pass each other in different directions while staying 1.5 metres apart. Otherwise, set it up for one-way traffic. Also teach children to keep to these walking routes as much as possible.
- Remind employees to stay 1.5 metres apart from each other. Post reminders of the 1.5 metre rule in multiple locations, including the teachers’ room and break rooms.
- Train and supervise employees in following the measures and recommendations and monitor that everyone stays 1.5 metres apart.
- Arrange spaces (such as the staff room, group areas and classrooms) in such a way that sufficient distance can be maintained. For example, place tables and chairs in fixed locations in a room/hall.
- Also arrange staff rooms and offices in such a way that adults can stay 1.5 metres apart.
- Limit the number of employees in a single room wherever possible. Always ensure that people can stay 1.5 metres apart in a room AND that the number of employees in the room does not exceed maximum capacity according to the current measures.
Limiting the number of contacts in childcare and school
If there is a child or employee with COVID-19 at the childcare centre or school, there is a risk that the person’s contacts will be infected. Therefore, it is important to limit the number of contacts per child and employee as much as possible. This also makes it easier to do source and contact tracing in the event of an infection.
A number of options for minimising the number of contacts are provided below. It is important for the childcare centre or school to ensure that contacts are limited as much as possible.
These measures can be difficult for children. Ensure good communication and explanation to children and parents/carers and prepare children well for the measures.
Recommendations on limiting the number of contacts between adults:
- The guiding principle is schools only provide education and that childcare centres only provide childcare.
- Limit other activities that may lead to non-necessary contact, or have them take place digitally. For example, organise parent meetings, parent-teacher talks, team meetings, etc. online. This also applies to open days.
- Limit the use of external lunchtime supervisors as much as possible and do not swap lunchtime supervisors between different groups.
- Limit the number of external people coming into the childcare centre or school, for example for lice checks and reading aloud to younger classes. Arrange for necessary help, for example speech therapy or physical therapy, to take place outside school on an individual basis as much as possible.
- Make sure that parents/carers do not enter the childcare centre or school when bringing and collecting children. If this is not possible when bringing and collecting the youngest children from the childcare centre or in special education, make sure that a distance of 1.5 metres is always maintained between different parents/carers and between the parents/carers and the staff. Arrange the walking routes to ensure distancing.
- Organise the picking up and dropping off of pupils in such a way that parents/carers can maintain distance from each other. This could be done by marking off spaces that are 1.5 metres apart.
- In order to limit contact between different parents/carers, staggered drop-off and pick-up times can be used. In doing so, the school and childcare centre should take into account families with several children in different groups at the same childcare centre or school.
Recommendations on limiting the number of contacts between children:
- The guiding principle is to minimise the number of different contacts per child.
- In the childcare centre, every effort must be made to keep the different groups separate as much as possible, and preferably to set up fixed groups.
- In the schools, every effort must be made to keep the different groups separate as much as possible, and preferably to set up fixed groups.
- One option for limiting contact between different classes is to spread the number of pupils using central areas such as schoolyards, cloakrooms, assembly halls and canteens at the same time by staggering break times and/or setting up a rotating schedule for which classes spend the break in their own classrooms on different days.
- Schools should also make an effort to work with designated pairs/buddies (2 children sitting next to each other and working together, for example) within one class/school year, maintaining distance between these designated pairs/buddies as much as possible. For the younger children, instead of pairing up, it would also be possible to designate fixed small groups (for example no more than 5 children per group) who work together.
- Keep records on which pairs or groups are formed, and update these records frequently.
- Gym classes should be held outdoors whenever possible.
- For the rules on school transport, see 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 obliged 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).
- Reduce contact between employees, for example by staggering breaks or setting up multiple break rooms for the staff. The measures (such as distancing) remain in effect during these times.
- Ensure that only necessary staff are present at the school or childcare centre, and work from home if possible.
- Schedule all meetings, consultations etc. digitally.
- 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 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.
Face masks that cover the mouth and nose
The wearing of face masks that cover the mouth and nose is not recommended in childcare or in primary education, special primary education and special education.
- In the older classes (groups 7 and 8) in primary education, the teacher may consider wearing a face mask that covers the mouth and nose or a face shield while in the classroom. This consideration can also be made by out-of-school childcare staff working with children in the same age group.
- In the older classes (groups 7 and 8) in primary education, schools may consider having children wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose while they are in the corridors (when it is not possible to always maintain distance in the corridors ). When face masks are used by children, proper instruction in mask use and hand hygiene is important.
- If it is necessary for parents/carers to come into the childcare centre or school, they must wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose.