Reopening Schools during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Overview and Rapid Systematic Review of Guidelines and Recommendations on Preventive Measures and the Management of Cases

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Nov 27;17(23):8839. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17238839.


Given the limited evidence of school closure effectiveness in containing the pandemic and the consequences for young people, reopening schools with appropriate measures is essential. This overview aimed to describe the main measures planned for the 2020-2021 academic year within the WHO European Region. A rapid systematic review of scientific databases was also performed. The websites of the government, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Education of European Region countries were searched through 1 October for official documents about the prevention and management of suspected cases/confirmed cases in primary and secondary schools. To find further suggestions, a rapid systematic review was conducted through 20 October searching Pubmed, Scopus, and Embase. There were 23 official documents. France, Luxembourg, Malta, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, the UK, Spain, and San Marino were considered. Performing the rapid review, 855 records were identified and 7 papers were finally selected. The recommendations mostly agreed. However, there was no consensus on the criteria for the return to school of students that tested positive, and the flexibility between attendance at school and remote education for high-risk children often varied. School closure was commonly considered as the very last resort for COVID-19 control. Studies are required to evaluate the impact of different recommendations during this autumn term.

Keywords: COVID-19; prevention and control; reopening; schools.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • COVID-19*
  • Child
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics* / prevention & control
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Schools*