DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines Public Schools has canceled all classes, programs, and activities for a period of at least 17 days starting Friday at 6 p.m.
The school district says it has growing concerns over the COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, pandemic.
"We impact every community in the greater metro area," Superintendent Tom Ahart said. "So it's incumbent upon us to do what we can to stem the tide and hopefully slow down the spread of COVID-19."
In a letter sent to staff, Ahart wrote:
"This is an extraordinary step for our school district, but this is an extraordinary time for our community, our country and the world. By taking this step, our goal is to implement preventive measures - from social distancing to additional cleaning at our schools - as well as give us more time to assess the spread of Coronavirus in Iowa and the impact it may have on our school district."
Dr. Ahart says his hope is to resume classes on March 30, "but this is a very dynamic situation and we will adjust accordingly." Classes weren't scheduled during much of the 17 days, but many programs and activities were.
DMPS will close all buildings during the week of March 23 through March 27. All certified staff are expected to work remotely.