Youth Services Support

How children and young people can access essential support services and emotional support.

Introduction to New Guidance for Schools and Educational Settings

From the 1st of September 2021 new guidance will take effect. This guidance has been published by the Department of Education for all School and Educational Settings in Northern Ireland. As Youth Services is deemed an Educational Setting in Legislation particular to the Coronavirus Act 2020, this guidance also applies to Youth Work Settings and Replaces previous Youth Restart Guidance.

  • The DE Coronavirus (Covid-19): Guidance for Schools and Educational Settings in Northern Ireland  is now the main reference document for the delivery of youth work in the context of Covid-19. Any revisions to this document will apply to youth settings also.
  • For brevity within the document the terms school, pupils, teachers are used. These should be read on the same context as youth work settings, such as youth centres/projects, children and young people and youth work staff/volunteers.
  • We have provided on this webpage key highlighted information and contextual information based on this guidance for youth settings. This guidance should be read in reference to the noted points within the main guidance.

Social Distancing

Youth settings should continue to endeavour to implement as much social distancing as is practical where physical capacity and curriculum delivery permit. Public health guidance of 2 metres social distancing remains in place between adults and children & young people.

Although the use of formal bubbles is no longer required in youth settings, youth settings are asked to maximise the time where children & young people are within a consistent group.

Use of Transport

It continues to be mandatory for all post-primary aged children & young people to wear a face covering on both public transport and youth transport services.  It is also strongly recommended that all primary aged children regardless of age should wear a face covering on both public transport and youth transport services.

No child or young person should eat or drink on board unless it is for a medical reason.

It is important to maximise the ventilation of fresh air (from outside the vehicle).

Use of Indoor & Outdoor Spaces

Youth Services are able to host both outdoor and indoor gatherings on the same basis as the Executive’s current guidance for non-domestic outdoor and indoor gatherings in other sectors.

Youth settings should seek to safely maximise their use of the outdoor environment as public health advice is that outdoor environments can limit transmission.

It is also important that indoor spaces are well ventilated at all times, by leaving doors and windows open.

Movement of Staff/Children and Young People Around Youth Settings

The Executive’s decision to no longer require the use of bubbles in youth settings does not affect the benefits of close interactions with others being minimised wherever possible.

The Department expects to see the resumption of practical activities across the curriculum for all post primary children & young people in 2021/22.  

Use of Face Coverings & PPE

While face coverings are recommended in some circumstances, if any child or young person is unable or unwilling to wear a face covering, they should not be denied access to the full range of opportunities.

Primary school children are recommended not to use face coverings on school premises.

It is strongly recommended that post-primary children & young people wear a face covering at all times when inside youth buildings, including group work rooms, corridors and confined communal spaces such as toilet areas.

Hygiene Measures

Youth settings should facilitate good hygiene practices wherever possible, for example, the provision of hand sanitiser at key areas.

Regular reminders and signage should be applied to build and maintain awareness of personal hygiene standards throughout the day.

Ventilation Measures

The opening of doors and windows should be encouraged to increase natural ventilation and also to reduce contact with door handles. 

A youth setting should not be below 16oC. In cooler weather windows should be opened just enough to provide constant background ventilation.

Identification & Response to Symptoms

Anyone with symptoms (even if they have had a negative LFD test result) should still self-isolate immediately according to PHA guidelines.

Testing is voluntary and no child or young person should be tested unless informed consent has been given by their parent or guardian, or if they are over 16.

If anyone displays symptoms of COVID-19, they, and any members of their household within that youth setting, must be sent home and advised to follow the PHA guidance.

Details on how a close contact is defined and what action should be taken by youth workers is available on the DE website.


At lunchtime, all youth settings that provide catering are encouraged to facilitate children & young people maintaining their consistent groups in the dining hall if possible.

Education Visits

Both day and residential visits by youth settings are able to take place.  The EA has revised their guidance for education visits and includes mitigating measures and details on the appropriate risk assessments that are required for such visits.

Residential & Overnight Stays

Residential visits and overnight stays are able to happen.  The guidance document for youth settings can be found below.

Youth Work Curriculum Delivery

Depending on the activity, in order to support contact tracing, youth settings should seek to ensure that children & young people are kept in consistent groups for activities or smaller groups where this is not possible. If it possible for the activity to take place outdoors, youth settings should seek to do so wherever possible.

Music & Singing

Indoor singing in groups together with 1:1 singing lessons may now resume for all pupils without an audience and with appropriate mitigations in place.

Indoor ensemble rehearsals may now resume without an audience and with appropriate mitigations in place.

Vulnerable Children & Young People

Children and Young People who are classed as “clinically extremely vulnerable” or “vulnerable” in health terms should take extra precautions when attending youth settings and additional guidance for those groups is available here.

When providing one-to-one care for vulnerable children & young people, social distancing should be maintained wherever possible.

Children & Young People with Additional Needs

Face coverings should not be used by some children and young people with special educational needs who may become distressed.

When providing one-to-one care for SEN or vulnerable children & young people, social distancing should be maintained wherever possible.

Last updated: 26/11/2021