Schools across Iowa will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.

Gov. Kim Reynolds made the announcement Friday morning during her daily press briefing. She said it was a difficult decision, one that was based on the number of coronavirus cases that continue to grow across the state.

Believe me, I would like nothing more than to stand before you today and announce that Iowa will be open for school in May. But as we look at what the data is telling us now, I can't tell you with certainty based on the Department of Public Health's data that they're providing to the office that early May will be the right time for students, teachers, and staff to gather again in their classrooms. So, therefore, I regret to say that Iowa schools will not reopen for this school year.

Iowa Education Director Ann Lebo said more information on reopening the schools would be made by June 1. According to Lebo, districts will continue voluntary and required continuous learning plans while school buildings are closed.

According to Lebo, the continued closure of Iowa's schools will result in the cancellation of spring sports. She said a decision on summer sports will also be made by June 1.

As part of her proclamation, Reynolds also waived the requirement that schools start no earlier than Aug. 23. That decision allows each district and the non-public schools in Iowa to make a choice about the length of their 2020-2021 academic year.

On Friday, Reynolds announced that Iowa had 191 new cases of COVID-19, increasing the statewide total to 2,332. She also announced four additional deaths.

Black Hawk County health officials confirmed the county’s first death on Thursday. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Black Hawk County victim was an adult between the ages of 61 and 80.

While the state is reporting 138 cases of COVID-19 in Black Hawk County, local health officials reported 150 on Thursday. The increase was attributed to an outbreak at the Tyson Foods plant in Waterloo.

After talking directly with Tyson officials Thursday night, Gov. Reynolds said the state was sending a total of 2,700 test kits to the Waterloo area so workers at the meatpacking facility can be tested if they’re showing symptoms.

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