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Key messaging


Colds, flu and other respiratory illness are common in schools during winter. Here are some simple tips to prevent the spread of illness:

  • Wash and dry hands regularly, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, and using the toilet
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, not your hand 
  • Regularly clean high touch surfaces – door handles, taps, table tops, phones, computer keyboards, etc
  • You should keep your child at home from school if they are too sick to learn and need time to rest and recover
  • Get a flu jab NOW - it’s FREE for people who are pregnant, over 65s, and people at higher risk of getting very sick. Check with your healthcare provider to see if you are eligible

For more information see:

Additional resources



Further information

Winter Illness and RSV

Cold, flu and other respiratory viruses including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are common in schools and early learning centres during winter. These illnesses can be easily spread by sneezes or cough droplets.

RSV infections may progress to cause pneumonia and bronchiolitis, especially in infants.

Common symptoms:

  • a runny nose
  • coughing or sneezing
  • fever
  • wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty feeding due to breathlessness


  • Anyone who is unwell should stay at home until they are symptom free and feeling well. Your child should not return to school or early learning until 24 hours after their symptoms (cough, runny nose) have gone
  • Wash and dry hands thoroughly and often to stop the spread of illness
  • Shortness of breath or abnormally rapid breathing always requires immediate medical attention

If your child or baby has these symptoms, please see our website for further information on when to see a doctor:

Last updated 11 May 2024.