Maricopa High School graduation

The Maricopa High School Class of 2019 celebrated its graduation the old-fashioned way in May 2019.

MARICOPA — The Maricopa High School Class of 2021 has a lot to celebrate this month.

As COVID-19 cases in the United States continue to trend downward, the Maricopa Unified School District has OK’d an outdoor prom set to take place this weekend. Students and staff will arrive dressed to the nines for a themed “night under the stars” on the MHS football field Saturday night.

Then on May 26, graduates will walk across the stage in caps and gowns. Each student will be able to invite two guests to the graduation event, which will be in the evening from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

The district had originally planned to host a separate May ceremony for the Class of 2020 because their graduation was postponed yet again in December due to rising COVID cases. However, district representative Mishell Terry said there was not enough interest among those students to support a full graduation in May. Instead, the 2020 class will be acknowledged as a group at the beginning of the 2021 ceremony on May 26.

Masks will be required for both prom and graduation. In a statement on Thursday, Terry said that Gov. Doug Ducey’s decision to end the mask mandate for the state does not change the district’s policy to follow federal guidelines during the pandemic.

“Although Governor Ducey rescinded the executive order that directs K-12 schools to require a mask, the decision gives districts the right to institute and maintain mitigation strategies — including the use of masks,” Terry said. “MUSD will continue to work with the Pinal County Health Department to analyze health benchmark data and make decisions. MUSD mask requirements will remain in place until further notice.”

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Katie Sawyer covers Maricopa and the surrounding area for PinalCentral, including city, education, business, crime and more. She can be reached at ksawyer@pinalcentral.com.