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SAN TAN VALLEY — A school that was at the epicenter of the fight over reopening classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been shut down due to an outbreak on campus.

The Pinal County Public Health Department announced Wednesday that Combs High School would be closed immediately due to multiple students or staff testing positive for COVID-19. The earliest the school can reopen is Oct. 27.

Until then, all classes, activities and sports are canceled, including the homecoming festivities. All other schools in the J.O. Combs Unified School District will remain open.

All Combs High School students will be utilizing virtual learning and are told to quarantine for two weeks following their most recent possible exposure, which the county determined happened Tuesday. Any student who feels any symptoms of potential illness should seek medical help.

The Combs district was the first in Pinal County to return to in-person learning, which caused a significant amount of controversy. The start date had to be pushed back because staff called in sick in protest of what they called a hasty return that put the health of everyone at the school in danger. School started in person on Sept. 8.

“I feel for (the team),” Combs football coach Travis Miller tweeted on Wednesday. “We followed mask and social distancing rules. Three months, still no cases. Now sitting two weeks, no practice, no games for issues with non-football players. We practiced while school was virtual before, not this time. Stay focused and ready.”

The Combs football team was scheduled to travel to Cottonwood to face Mingus on Friday and to host Phoenix Arcadia the following week. Both games will now be canceled.

This is the second school in San Tan Valley to be shut down this week. The county closed San Tan Foothills on Sunday night for almost two weeks under similar circumstances.

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