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Pinal County residents and others across the country have, for the most part, learned to live with the threat of COVID-19. But now is not the time to be overconfident, especially since students have been returning to classrooms and numbers are ticking upward here and in many places.

City, county and school officials have been watching the situation closely, with an eye on guidelines that were implemented months ago. Pinal County is listed in the “Moderate” category for business and “Hybrid” for schools. These designations are science based and involve the number of cases experienced in the communities.

Casa Grande Mayor Craig McFarland said it well: “We need to stay vigilant and not let our guard down.”

Meanwhile, more people are seen out and about without masks. Ironically, as experts have learned more and more about the novel coronavirus, use of masks has been cited as a major factor in controlling the spread. Of course, some people get the disease with few or no symptoms. For others, it is deadly.

Students gradually have returned to schools in Casa Grande and elsewhere this month. Some Casa Grande elementary schools have experienced cases, and one is shut down for two weeks. The Casa Grande Union High School District announced on Tuesday that students at both high schools have tested positive, and those coming into contact with them have been quarantined. The schools have met the three benchmarks for in-school instruction, but that could change if numbers continue to rise.

As we’ve said before, Gov. Doug Ducey has handled the situation well, keeping in mind there has been no ideal way to do that. He recently faced critical comments from Democratic candidate Joe Biden about the state ‘s response, but a total, long-term shutdown of the state is no solution. States that have shut down further have faced more serious economic consequences for which there is no short-term remedy.

COVID-19 remains a serious challenge, and students returning to school are a new part of that. Vaccines seem promising, but they are not out yet. In the meantime, everyone needs to be as safe as they can.

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