First, shield the most vulnerable. Children, older staff, and those who have underlying health conditions that put them at high risk should not return to school in person unless there is little or no community transmission; the school system should enable them to participate remotely to the greatest extent possible.

Second, reduce risk wherever possible. Large in-person student assemblies will be out. Cafeterias may need to close, with students instead eating in classrooms. On-site food preparation may be replaced by prepackaged meals and disposable dishware. And schools can reduce the number of surfaces touched by multiple people, for example by keeping hallway doors open. Some essential services must continue—such as in-school meals which many students depend on. Others may need to be modified—libraries will likely need capacity restrictions.

Because group singing increases risk, large choir rehearsals will need to stop. In areas where the coronavirus is under good control, band and orchestra practice may be able to continue. Team sports may be too risky; clusters of cases have been reported among college and professional sports teams. Recess and physical-education classes are possible if students play outdoors in small groups, wear masks, and observe physical-distancing guidelines.