Maricopa High School
Maricopa High School. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School will close Thursday and Friday due to staff quarantines.

Students will learn from home and return to campus on Monday for classes.

A message on the high school’s home page, however, said the closure could be extended if additional positive COVID-19 cases are reported.

Teachers will provide additional information regarding access to online instruction, the message said.

Last Wednesday, Superintendent Dr. Tracey Lopeman recommended to the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board that in-person classes resume on Monday, Feb. 1. But she cautioned the situation was “volatile” and the number of student and staff coronavirus cases at several schools – she specifically mentioned Maricopa High School and the district’s two middle schools – could lead to quarantines that would force a short-term return to distance learning.

The board voted, 3-0, that night to accept Lopeman’s recommendation to allow students opting for in-school learning to go back to class. Board member Torri Anderson did not attend the meeting.

Lopeman told the board at the Jan. 27 meeting that the district had seen week-over-week declines in positive cases since the beginning of January. Lopeman said 146 district employees and students are expected absent this week due to COVID-19 or the Family Medical Leave Act. She said that number included 21 teachers, 22 support staff, six in the transportation department and 97 students, including 29 at Maricopa Elementary School, 24 at Santa Cruz Elementary and 16 at Maricopa High School.

“There was a definite spike for Christmas and New Year’s,” board member Jim Jordan said at the meeting. “The trend line is coming down now. It would be prudent to give parents the choice of in-person learning.”

Lopeman had told the board that more positive cases were being reported almost every day, and quarantines of 30 to 100 to an entire school were possible in the short term.

The board meets next on Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the district’s administration building.


The closing announcement drew a rebuke from some parents on Facebook – and understanding from others about the difficult situation faced by board members, teachers and administrators.

“What the actual f, MHS? 3 days….and now back to online!!! My kids are struggling and you can’t even make and manage a plan?!?!? What is happening?!?!” wrote Kelly Anderson, whose post on The Original City of Maricopa, AZ public page drew more than 250 comments by 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Amy Michelle was unhappy as well, posting in the comment thread: “MUSD needs to change their covid/quarantine policy. I’m tired of my son having to quarantine needlessly. I’m tired of entire classes being qurantined when the logic used to do so doesn’t align with the CDC. Enough is enough. Our children need to be in school. I’ve emailed the board tonight with my thoughts on this development and my feelings on their complicity. I encourage others to do the same.”

Some others acknowledged the difficulty of the dilemma of trying keep parents happy by keeping schools while trying to keep students and staff safe during a pandemic in a county still seeing significant community spread of the virus, according to the county health director.

“I have to guess, not being in the meetings, that as it is an ever-developing and ever evolving situation that is unprecedented, a strained and bewildered leadership is making the decision that seems right in the moment,” commented Shane Shambo. “Inconsistency is destructive and cancerous for the optics of leadership, but sometimes in extraordinary circumstances we have to have understanding that people are human, flawed and imperfect, making the best with what they have.”

In response to another comment, Karen M Tamm Fortunato wrote: “you do realize without enough staff/teachers it’s not safe for our kids. Then you’d be going after the school cause something happened to your kid. Let’s stop and think about that.”


Grab and go meals will be available for pick up between 10:30 a.m. and noon at Maricopa High School during the closure. The window-pick-up location is the Copa Cafe facing the student parking lot.

Maricopa High School will provide an on-site Learning Lab for students who need a quiet, safe environment to independently engage in their remote classes during the school day. The MHS Learning Lab is similar to a supervised study hall.

The MHS Learning Lab will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Students may enter through the student parking lot. If you need transportation to the Learning Lab, please call 520-568-8100.

Students who are not quarantined due to direct exposure may continue to participate in extracurricular and athletic activities.

ESS Life Skills students will attend in-person learning on Thursday and Friday.

For information on COVID-19, including symptoms and treatment, visit the CDC website at

Parents with questions can contact school principal Deana McNamee at 520-568-8100.