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Information for schools, after school clubs and childcare centres

Published Updated

To date, very few children have been diagnosed with COVID-19. For most people, the disease is mild.

To date, very few children have been diagnosed with COVID-19. For most people, the disease is mild.

On 12th March 2020, the Norwegian Directorate of Health decided to close childcare centres/nurseries and educational institutions. Update 24th March 2020: The government has decided that the measure from the 12th March is extended up to and including 13th April 2020. The measures may be extended.

It is important to maintain operations in the health and care services and other critical society functions and to avoid that people in risk groups are used to look after the children. Managers of childcare centres and headteachers at primary schools must arrange for a solution for children of parents who work in the health and care services, transport sector or other critical society functions. 

Preventing infection

Sick children/pupils/teachers should stay at home, regardless of the disease, and even with mild symptoms.

To prevent infections and limit transmission, schools should intensify hygiene measures and measures to limit contact between pupils/ children /staff.

Hygiene measures

  • Good cough etiquette and hand hygiene reduce transmission of all respiratory infections, including the new coronavirus. It is important that the management of the school / childcare centre ensure that children / pupils / staff are familiar with the measures below and have received adequate training.
  • Hand washing with soap and water is recommended after coughing / sneezing, after using the toilet / changing nappies, before meals and otherwise for visibly dirty hands. It is also recommended to wash hands when returning home. Alcohol-based hand disinfectants are an alternative if hand washing facilities are unavailable. Note that alcohol-based disinfection is ineffective when hands are visibly dirty, so they should be washed.
  • It is recommended to have paper towels and hand wash / disinfectant readily accessible for use by children / pupils / staff. If this is not available, cough / sneeze into the crook of the elbow.  Avoid touching the face or eyes.
  • Ensure thorough cleaning, especially with regard to toilets and washbasins, door handles, banisters, sports equipment, toys and other items that are frequently touched. Ethanol-based disinfection can be used on otherwise clean surfaces, otherwise thorough cleaning with ordinary detergents is recommended.

Limit contact between children/pupils and staff

Shaking hands, hugging and unnecessary physical contact should be avoided where possible. However, the need for comfort and contact for the smallest children in childcare should be maintained.

Childcare centres and after school clubs are recommended to avoid activity in densely packed rooms indoors and to facilitate increased use of outdoor activities as far as possible. Outdoors, children will often hold a greater distance from one another than indoors, which can help prevent infection.

In addition, the following measures can be considered:

  • If possible, keep a one metre distance between pupils in the classroom (between desks)
  • Reduce the number of students at school at the same time (attend school every other day, or divide the students into groups with shorter days so that they have morning and afternoon school.
  • Avoid gathering larger groups than necessary within the school (including outside of school hours).
  • Facilitate distance learning for pupils where possible.

Evaluation for closure of schools, childcare centres and after school clubs

There is uncertainty about the benefit of closures on the spread of COVID-19. Studies on the transmission of influenza virus indicate that it may have a positive effect on reducing local transmission and delaying the onset of the outbreak. For influenza, children have been found to have a role in transmission, but with COVID-19, the importance of children in transmission is more uncertain.

Closure of schools and kindergartens should only be carried out if it is considered absolutely necessary. If there is transmission in the local community, and additional infection control measures described above are not sufficient, temporary closure of schools and childcare centres may be considered.

Potential benefits must be weighed against the disadvantages of such a measure. Continuous closure of schools and childcare centres will mean that childcare needs to be taken care of by others. Grandparents, who often belong to the risk groups for serious illness, may be exposed to unnecessary risk if responsibility is left to them, and parents employed in the health and care services and companies with critical social responsibilities could be prevented from going to work.

If such closure is sustained or over a longer period, measures must be considered in relation to the mental and physical health of the pupils / children.

School trips and other travel

School trips that involve close gathering of students in large groups and on public transport should be avoided.

Plan for illness among pupils / children / staff

Schools and childcare centres should have a plan for dealing with children / pupils who become ill. Parents should be encouraged to inform the school / childcare centre immediately if someone in the family is diagnosed with COVID-19 disease.

For advice to employees or children who may have been infected or suspect a disease, see

Children, pupils or employees who are diagnosed with illness must be followed up by the health service to obtain sound health care. The municipal health service will trace and follow up contacts in accordance with current guidelines.

Advice for confirmed cases

Children, pupils or staff who are diagnosed must be followed up by the health service to obtain appropriate health care. The municipal health service will map and trace all contacts in accordance with current guidelines.

Talking to children

Childcare centres and schools should also follow their current routines in case of illness among children. It is important to talk to children / pupils about coronavirus disease to avoid fear and to create security around the situation.

This film is made by the Norwegian Directorate of Health and is intended for children and adolescents. The sound is only in Norwegian but subtitles are available in several languages:

  • Click on the cogwheel symbol at the bottom when you open the film
  • Remove "autoplay" if it shows red
  • Choose "settings" 
  • Click "subtitles"
  • Choose "automatic translation"
  • Choose language

(We cannot guarantee that the autotranslation for some of the languages is completely correct).


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