Morenci Schools, Fitness Center, library to open Monday

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: Vehicles are once again occupying the Morenci High School parking lot after six months of the facilities being empty as the school district shut down in March due to the threat of the COVID-19 Virus epidemic. The entire district from kindergarten through 12th grade will return to school Monday, Sept. 21. Protective face masks will be required of all students, faculty and staff. Schedules followed prior to the shut down will resume, including bus routes.

Protective face masks will be required 

By Walt Mares

Wow, they are no longer almost empty. Parking lots, that is. The presence Friday of several motor vehicles at Morenci Schools, the Fitness Center, and Morenci Public Library are sure signs that things are about to happen. And that is what?

All three are reopening this coming Monday, Sept. 21. They all will follow the schedules they adhered to prior to closing in March due to the Covid-19 Virus pandemic. 

At Morenci Schools, grades from kindergarten through 12th will be back in session, and along with classroom schedules being resumed, so will the school lunch program and bus schedules. 

District officials are adhering to caution, which means students, teachers and all support staff will be required to wear face masks as a safety measure to ward off the virus. Greenlee County is the only county in Arizona that currently has a “green” minimal spread category in all three benchmarks allowing for in-person instruction. The benchmarks are only a recommendation, however, and Safford is also scheduled to return to in-person instruction Monday, and Thatcher, Pima, and Duncan have held in-person instruction for the past month.

 Morenci Plaza Loop

Face masks will also be required for those making use of the now-world famous Fitness Center. Appointments will be required to use the facility.

The Morenci Library, a popular gathering place not only for education but also for student socializing will also be following its pre-pandemic schedule.

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: The Morenci Fitness Center is scheduled to reopen this Monday, Sept. 21. It was closed for all but two weeks since March. Participation may be made by appointment. Protective face masks to help ward off the COVID-19 Virus will be mandatory.

For those who may be new arrivals to the community, the Fitness Center and library are located at the west end of the Morenci Plaza Loop. Included in the loop are the moving picture theatre and a Starbucks coffee shop.

For the past six months, vehicle traffic in the loop has been almost non-existent, except for those stopping for a cup of joe or other kinds of drink at Starbucks. About the only vehicles parked for any noticeable period of time in the Loop parking lot had been those of coffee shop employees. Even then there were not very many customers coming by but that has changed over the past three weeks. The Starbucks baristas are now very busy.

The Morenci Theater has been open – sort of. There have been a few customers who occasionally stop by to buy popcorn. Over the past week about a dozen or more people per day have actually gone in to see a movie.

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: The Morenci Community Library will reopen on Monday, March 21. It and other Morenci Community Services have been closed since March due to the COVID-19 Virus. Protective face masks must be worn in the facility.

The Loop parking lots have been so empty that a Clifton couple has had the area pretty much to themselves. A lady, on an almost daily basis, climbs up and down the stairway that leads from the parking lot to Burro Alley. She said she climbs up and down abut 50 times at least five days a week. 

The woman, my wife, Susan Breen, said, “Not to be selfish but in a way, it’s nice to have all this open space to ourselves. Since the Fitness Center has been closed we’ve found a way to make the best of it. Still, it’s going to be great to have the center open again.”

While she climbs up and down the staircase, I prefer to walk one or two miles around the plaza. I also carry a bucket of seed in the car trunk to feed the birds, a whole lot of sparrows, and some doves – or pigeons. We’re not totally sure what they are.

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