CORONAVIRUS

Iowa City Schools suspend athletics, extracurriculars as coronavirus spreads

Iowa City school board to discuss additional measures at special meeting Tuesday

Students gather around a bottle of hand sanitizer before leaving choral class at McKinley STEAM Academy in Cedar Rapids
Students gather around a bottle of hand sanitizer before leaving choral class at McKinley STEAM Academy in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, March 12, 2020. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — All extracurricular activities and athletics are canceled indefinitely in the Iowa City Community School District, the district said Sunday, a day after Gov. Kim Reynolds announced there is community spread of coronavirus in the state.

Non-essential visitors also won’t be allowed in school facilities, community use of school buildings is suspended, and all out-of-state travel for staff and students is canceled “until further notice,” according to an email to families.

Before- and after-school programming and school-based health clinics will remain open this week during spring break.

The restrictions take effect Monday.

The Iowa City school board will have a special meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday to discuss additional responses to the spread of COVID-19.

District officials previously said they will decide whether to cancel classes in the district — which includes neighborhoods in Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Hills and University Heights — by Thursday.

“By taking this step to suspend the above activities, our goal is to implement preventive measures — from social distancing to additional cleanings in our buildings — as well as give us more time to assess the spread of COVID-19 in our area,” district spokeswoman Kristin Pedersen said in the email.

About an hour after the Iowa City Schools announcement, Gov. Reynolds recommended all schools close for four weeks.

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Most of the Iowans known to have contracted the virus live in Johnson County. A case announced Saturday involves a Dallas County resident and is unrelated to travel, like the others. Public health officials do not know how the person contracted coronavirus, indicating community spread.

Most school districts in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City area are not scheduled to be back in session until March 23 after their spring breaks.

Five other districts — Cedar Rapids, Linn-Mar, Marion Independent, Mount Vernon and College Community school districts — decided to Friday cancel all student gatherings over the break.

Districts have considered online learning opportunities in the event of an extended closure, though it remains unclear if virtual learning would fulfill state instructional time requirements for K-12 schools.

Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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