Officials in Iowa’s largest school district are adding two more days onto this month’s break for students and will have school facilities thoroughly cleaned due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Ahart says there are no known cases of COVID-19 among staff or students.

“We think we’re being very proactive as opposed to being in a panic situation,” Ahart says. “Once we have identified cases in our schools, it’s really too late to do meaningful mitigation.”

Students were already scheduled to be off through March 26th for next week’s spring break, followed by teacher-only training days and conferences. Teachers will do that work online. Ahart says the district’s buildings will undergo a deep cleaning as students and staff are absent.

“We know that with 5000 staff and about 33,000 students, we impact every community in the greater metro area and so it’s incumbent upon us to do what we can to stem the tide,” Ahart says.

Classes will be held in Des Moines Public Schools today. After a 17-day break, classes are now scheduled to resume March 30th.

(By Iowa Public Radio’s Natalie Krebs)