The COVID-19 pandemic is a huge challenge to education systems. This Viewpoint offers guidance to teachers, institutional heads, and officials on addressing the crisis. What preparations should institutions make in the short time available and how do they address students’ needs by level and field of study? Reassuring students and parents is a vital element of institutional response. In ramping up capacity to teach remotely, schools and colleges should take advantage of asynchronous learning, which works best in digital formats. As well as the normal classroom subjects, teaching should include varied assignments and work that puts COVID-19 in a global and historical context. When constructing curricula, designing student assessment first helps teachers to focus. Finally, this Viewpoint suggests flexible ways to repair the damage to students’ learning trajectories once the pandemic is over and gives a list of resources.