Warriors Jazz Basketball Bear 01

In this Oct. 19, 2018, photo, the Utah Jazz Bear claps before the start of a game against the Golden State Warriors in Salt Lake City.

The Utah Jazz announced a reading program Wednesday aimed at helping students who are learning from home to stay engaged during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In Utah, K-12 public schools are in "soft closure" through May 1, which has students completing online and take-home work from home.

The "Bear's Reading Challenge" charges students in grades K-12 to read 600 minutes between now and April 27 for a chance to win Jazz prizes.

Teachers, parents and students can download a reading tracker at nba.com/jazz/reading-challenge that looks like the Jazz court and allows youth to keep track of their reading progress.

Once students complete the 600 minutes, they can visit the same website to complete a form and enter the drawing. Some of those prizes include a 2019-20 autographed team basketball, autographed jerseys and other prize packages, a statement from the Jazz said.

The reading challenge focuses on the "expand your community" pillar of the NBA Together campaign launched after the Jazz became a flash point during the pandemic that resulted in the suspension of the NBA and other professional seasons, the cancellation of NCAA basketball tournaments and spring sports seasons, and more.

It was March 11 when the Jazz were about to play at Oklahoma City when the game was halted just before tipoff. Less than 90 minutes later, it became known Utah's All-Star center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19. Less than 15 minutes later, the NBA announced it was suspending its season.

The NCAA, which had previously said it would contest its basketball tournaments without fans, then canceled the tournaments the next day.

Fellow Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell became one of a handful of NBA players who have since tested positive.

Both also became part of a group of professional athletes to donate large sums of money to arena workers affected by losing work; to various health departments dealing with treatment, education and policy issues; and to school districts trying to shift how they teach and serve meals to kids.

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @bhein3/@WeberHQ and at facebook.com/WeberStateSports.

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