This paper presents and analyses solutions where open education and open science were utilised to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education. The COVID-19 outbreak and associated lockdowns created huge challenges in school and higher education, demanding sudden responses which aimed to sustain pedagogical quality. Responses have varied from conservative to radically innovative. Universally, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted and shocked societies worldwide, and education systems were on the front line. The lockdowns largely stopped face-to-face and formal education in almost all countries, and in most cases, distance learning soon became the ‘new normal’. A central challenge concerned sustaining educational visions and ideals in such circumstances. To better understand the state of the art in the educational landscape, we collected case studies from 13 countries during the first year of the pandemic starting on 11 March 2020 (when the World Health Organization declared a pandemic). This paper presents summaries of the full country reports that were collected and describe lessons learned. Our overall aim was to identify good practices and recommendations from the collected case studies that can be taken forward in the future. We categorised the responses on the three generic educational levels (macro, meso and micro) and identified seven key aspects and trends that are valid for all or most countries: (1) formal education at a distance for first time; (2) similar approaches for formal education; (3) missing infrastructure and sharing open educational resources; (4) diverse teaching and learning methods and practices; (5) open education and access to open educational resources; (6) urgent need for professional development and training for teachers and (7) assessing and monitoring learning environments, teachers and students. Finally, we identified key recommendations on how open education and open science can benefit formal education in schools and universities in the future, namely, improved awareness of open educational practices, provision of ICT infrastructure, embracing and sustaining the practice of open access publications and OERs, capacity building for stakeholders and finally encouraging research and development in the area of open education and open science. We found significant evidence for the proposition that open education and open science can support both traditional face-to-face and distance learning.