OTTUMWA — Ottumwa High School announced on Sunday night that all spring athletic activities, including high school boys and girls track and field, tennis, soccer and golf, have been canceled for the next four weeks beginning Monday.

Several area schools including Cardinal, Pekin, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, Sigourney and Albia also announced a four-week cancellation of all activities following the recommendation from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds that all schools across the state close for four weeks to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

According to their websites, Fairfield has no school for four weeks, while Davis County has canceled classes “indefinitely.” Van Buren County has canceled classes today and Wednesday, with a special session by its school board scheduled for Thursday to determine how to proceed.” Cardinal is on spring break this week, so the closure will begin March 23.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association, Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and Iowa High School Speech Association announced Monday there will be no practices, activities or coach contact with athletes for four weeks, with the earliest date to resume April 13. However, prior to April 10, the schedule could be assessed based on information from the governor’s office, the Iowa Department of Health and the Iowa Department of Education.

All spring sports practices except for track were to begin Monday.

Earlier on Sunday, the CDC updated its mass-gathering guidance, recommending the postponement of any events with 50 or more people for the next eight weeks.

Track and field season had already begun for all Iowa high schools, including two weeks of indoor meets being held across the state. The Ottumwa girls and boys track and field teams combined to win five medals at the Dickinson Relays in Cedar Falls last Monday, which for now will be the last competition for the Bulldogs until mid-April, just a month before postseason tennis, track and golf tournaments are scheduled to be held.

Following the eight-week recommendation from CDC, the period for public gatherings of less than 50 people would expire in time for the week beginning on Monday, May 11, two days before boys district singles and doubles tennis tournaments are scheduled to be held. State-qualifying track and field meets across Iowa are currently scheduled for May 14, followed by boys postseason sectional golf tournaments on May 15 with team girls and boys tennis tournaments scheduled for May 16.

The state track and field championships, the biggest event on the spring sports calendar, is currently scheduled to be held at Drake Stadium in Des Moines May 21-23. Postseason soccer, state boys golf and boys singles and doubles state tennis is scheduled to be held the following week, which is also the first official week of competition for both high school softball and baseball.

The Ottumwa girls track and field team placed the highest in program history at the state track and field meet last year, placing sixth in Class 4A with 39 points. Twin sisters Alli and Grace Bookin-Nosbisch joined Carollin Mellin and Meghan Coulter in winning the program’s first state championship in the 4x800 relay last spring before Alli Bookin-Nosbisch added a state title in the girls 800 meter run two days later. All four runners are back this year with the Bookin-Nosbisch sisters and Mellin hoping to get one more chance to compete for state titles before graduating Ottumwa this spring.

“You never really think something like this virus is really going to affect you. Now it is and it’s becoming a reality for all of us,” Grace Bookin-Nosbisch said. “You always hear about meets getting cancelled for weather, but never for a virus. The thought of everything getting cancelled is just crazy.

“We just have to try and stay positive. It makes every time we step out on the track together feel that much more special,” Alli Bookin-Nosbisch added. “We know for sure we won’t have as much of it. Hopefully, we can do what we can with any time we have left on it this season.”

Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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