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Ellicott School District buys school buses to maintain distancing

Colorado ESSER Report: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund

Ellicott School District buys school buses to maintain distancing

Author: Jeremy Meyer

Title: Director of Communications

School Buses in Ellicott School District

Chris Smith, superintendent for Ellicott School District 22, which sits east of Colorado Springs in the middle of a vast swath of farms dotting windswept prairie, said that he and his staff felt “an enormous sense of fear” as everything ground to a halt in the spring of 2020. The coronavirus was spreading across the globe, schools were going remote and restrictions on everything from gathering to how close people could stand were being imposed. 

From the start, he said, “our main concerns were sifting through a mountain of information and learning new ways to do things, or reading through and trying to figure out health department attempts to give everyone plans to operate. Never in a million years did I ever think I would need to understand what PCR or antigen testing meant.”

Because Ellicott serves a 220-square-mile area with 80% of its 1,000 students needing to be bused in, Smith said he and his staff soon realized that keeping students safely distanced would be paramount, and so they looked at solutions such as staggering start and end times, switching to a block schedule where students would come in every other day, or dividing the district into quadrants to get everyone to the 80-acre campus that houses pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in multiple buildings.

Ultimately, they decided that adding three more buses to their existing 15 made the most sense because it would allow them to put fewer students on each bus, and so Ellicott put its $143,987 in ESSER I funding toward the total cost of $305,300 for the new vehicles. Learn more about how Ellicott used their ESSER funding on the Colorado School Finance Project's website.