Schools, kindergartens and children's leisure time

When should the child stay at home and how many playmates can a child now have? Advice for parents related to school, kindergarten and the children's leisure time.

School playground

Illustration: Mostphotos

Children and the coronavirus

Children in primary school and younger seem to be less affected by the coronavirus than grown-ups. If they do turn ill, they typically experience a mild form of the COVID-19 disease with mild and transient symptoms. Children and adults with symptoms primarily are contagious, with the highest risk of transmission at onset and one-to-two days before the symptoms appear. As children display less symptoms than adults, they also seem to transmit the disease to a lesser extent to others.

Read more about covid-19 infection in children and adolescents (FHI).

The Government presents relevant information for parents (in Norwegian).

Events and kids birthday parties

The rules and advice for events also apply to children.

Advice for infection control for schools and kindergarten

"How much snot is OK?"

An "ordinary", slightly runny nose, quite typical during autumn- and wintertime, is OK as long as the general condition of the child is otherwise good with no signs of a fever, cough or a sore throat. Children in kindergarten and primary school with a runny nose as the only symptom but who otherwise are in a good condition do not need to stay at home nor be tested. The same applies for familiar symptoms of an established allergy.

If your child wakes up in the morning with a fever and not feeling too well, the child must stay at home and should be tested for COVID-19. If the symptoms of a respiratory tract infection are only mild and no fever or cough is observed the symptoms can be assessed for two days at home. If the condition of the child does not improve, testing is recommended. If a speedy recovery is observed, the child can return to school / kindergarten without being tested.

Children who have had a respiratory infection (not COVID-19) can return to school / kindergarten once their general condition has improved. This applies even if some symptoms still linger, such as snot (irrespective of colour of the mucus) and occasional cough. Such lingering symptoms are common for younger children after recovering from a respiratory infection. This applies as long as the symptoms can be linked to the preceding respiratory infection and the symptoms are not new or increasing.

Flowchart

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has built a flowchart to help parents assess whether or not a child with respiratory symptoms need to stay at home (FHI.no).

Guidelines for infection control

The general advice for infection control still applies. For schools and kindergarten there are specific guidelines. You can read more here:

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training provides information for parents and children. Here you will also find information in different languages. 

Based on the precautionary principle some children might be advised not to be physically present at school. The Norwegian Society of Paediatricians (Norsk barnelegeforening) have in consultation with Norwegian Institute of Public Health prepared an overview of different diagnoses in children and youth, and whether any special considerations need to be taken into account (in Norwegian).

Play and socialising during leisure time

Although a child can spend time with other children in kindergarten and at school, it is important that we continue to follow the advice for infection control and limit the number of people in their close circle of contact during leisure time. It is still important that both children, young people and adults limit the number of people with whom we are in close contact.

The children should preferably spend time mainly with those in their cohort (group) in kindergarten, school or organised leisure activities. Avoid playdates with numerous additional children. Spending time with other children outside of these groups should be limited to children from their own local community.

Children do not need to be told to keep a distance while playing. The same applies to children who attend school together or take part in the same sports activities, or others in their close circle of contact / close friends. Children can keep a distance to others who are not part of the groups mentioned.

Youth can also socialize more closely with a few selected friends/contacts to whom they do not need to keep a one metre distance and who is part of their close circle of contacts. This circle of close contacts should not include too many people, and they should keep a distance of at least one metre to others. We should still avoid hugging and shaking hands.

Siblings can socialise as they normally do – this also applies to children living in two homes after divorce.

Recommendations for play and socialising:

  • Outdoors activities are preferred, rather than indoor activities
  • Avoid playgrounds where many children meet at the same time
  • Wash your hands often - both before and after playdates - and maintain good cough etiquette
  • Avoid shaking hands, hugging and other physical contact
  • Children and youth with symptoms of a respiratory infection should stay at home and not be with other children or youth outside of the family. This also applies when only mild symptoms are observed.
  • A child living in two homes after divorce and who shows symptoms of a respiratory infection should preferably stay in one of the homes until all symptoms are gone. The parents are advised to cooperate to ensure the general advice for infection control are followed.
  • Children / youth who are in isolation or quarantine at home should avoid contact with other children / youth outside the household.

Sports and other organized leisure activities

Guidelines for infection control in sports

See the Infection control for sport (COVID-19) (in Norwegian) for information on sports events or training and how to implement infection control in changing rooms.

Being with grandparents

Can grandparents be with their grandchildren?

Some groups have an increased risk of a more severe progression of COVID-19. The level of risk is divided into a slightly increased risk and a moderate or high risk. Read more about who this applies to and what advice applies to those in risk groups in a separate article.

With a low level of infection in society, persons with a slightly increased risk can essentially go on vacation with or be with their grandchildren. You are, however, encouraged to be extra attentive to the general advice for infection control (hand and cough hygiene, social distancing, and to stay at home if you experience symptoms or illness).

If you belong to the category with a moderate or high level of risk, you need to assess on an individual basis who to spend time with and what precautions to take. When required, an individual assessment on the level of risk for a more severe progression of COVID-19 should be made in consultation with your doctor.