NASEM recommends the following precautions:
- Provide surgical masks for all teachers and staff. All students and staff should wear face masks. Younger children may have difficulty using face masks, but schools should encourage compliance.
- Provide hand washing stations or hand sanitizer for all people who enter school buildings, minimize contact with shared surfaces, and increase regular surface cleaning.
- Limit large gatherings of students, such as during assemblies, in the cafeteria, and overcrowding at school entrances, possibly by staggering arrival times.
- Reorganize classrooms to enable physical distancing, such as by limiting class sizes or moving instruction to larger spaces. The report says cohorting, when a group of 10 students or less stay with the same staff as much as possible, is a promising strategy for physical distancing.
- Prioritize cleaning, ventilation, and air filtration, while recognizing that these alone will not sufficiently lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
- Create a culture of health and safety in every school, and enforce virus mitigation guidelines using positive approaches rather than by disciplining students.