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FLORENCE — The first day of school is July 21 in the Florence Unified School District, and face coverings will be voluntary.

In the last few weeks of the previous school year, FUSD backed off mandatory masks, “and that’s going to be the policy moving forward,” Superintendent Chris Knutsen said. He also said more students will be attending in-person.

“We’re just excited to get kids back in school,” he said. “Last year we had about 1,800 kids who were online. This year it looks like there will be about 350 kids who are online. The majority of families want their kids to come back in-person, so we’re real excited about that.”

Vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside school buildings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday in relaxing its COVID-19 guidelines.

The changes come amid a national vaccination campaign in which children as young as 12 are eligible to get shots, as well as a general decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

School begins at 8:35 a.m. and dismisses at 3:35 p.m. at Florence, Magma Ranch, Copper Basin and Skyline Ranch K-8 schools. School dismisses at 1:20 p.m. on early-release days.

School runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Anthem, Circle Cross Ranch, San Tan Heights and Walker Butte K-8 schools. School ends at 12:45 p.m. on early-release days.

High schools in FUSD — Florence, Poston Butte and San Tan Foothills — meet from 7:10 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. and dismiss at 12:10 p.m. on early-release days.

Building Blocks preschool and child care meets from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mountain Vista Academy’s front office hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fall break will be held Sept. 27 though Oct. 8; winter break will be held Dec. 20 through Jan. 7; and spring break will be held March 14-25.

For bus stop information, visit www.infofinderi.com. Under AZ, choose Florence Unified School District and enter your address in the space provided. You will be given the schools of attendance, school bus route number, school bus stop location, bus stop times and school times. Contact the transportation office with any additional questions or needs for support at 520-868-8804.

Other back-to-school links:

  • To register for preschool, visit
  • For school breakfast and lunch menus and other information, visit

, scroll 1/3 down the home page and select “Meals.”

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.

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