“There is an urgent need to understand the evidence that would support how students could safely return to school.” – The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
Most elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools across the United States have been closed since March in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Schools that are able to do so have replaced classroom education with remote learning, using a range of tools and approaches. As of the publication of this report, governors from most US states have recommended or ordered that schools remain closed for the remainder of this academic year, affecting more than 50 million public school students. While a few schools may reopen before the end of the current school year, most schools, students, and their families in the United States are now facing uncertainty about whether or how schools will resume for in-class learning in the fall.
A host of guidance documents related to COVID-19 mitigation strategies for schools have recently been issued by various government and nongovernment organizations at the national and international levels. And a number of countries in Europe and Asia are now implementing a variety of approaches for returning K-12 schoolchildren to school. This report includes a summary and detailed Appendix on a selection of country approaches to school reopening. It is important to track these efforts and the implementation of the various guidances closely. Still, it will be difficult to tease out lessons learned absent rigorous study, since many adults will be returning to work, and physical distancing restrictions will be eased contemporaneously with schools reopening.