Poudre School District will likely only be able to transport a limited number of students at the start of the 2020-21 school year, another challenging effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on current (as of June 1, 2020) Colorado Department of Education transportation guidance, only 10 students may ride on a standard-sized, 77-passenger school bus and only 5 may ride on a special education bus, which holds 47 passengers. During a typical year, PSD buses approximately 14,000 students, about half of our total enrollment. The district estimates that it may only be able to bus about 10 percent of that usual total, if current restrictions remain.
“Like our families, we wish we were preparing for a normal school year when so many more PSD students could look forward to greeting their bus driver and ride to school with their friends,” said Jake Bell, director of Transportation for PSD. “As is the case with many other traditions, however, taking the bus to school won’t look the same in PSD as it did before COVID-19.”
PSD staff have prepared multiple phases of transportation for the 2020-21 school year, so the district can pivot with changes in local and state public health orders and recommendations.
As we start the school year, the district is committed to providing legally required bussing to students with disabilities who have transportation as a related service in their Individualized Transportation Plan (ITP); students experiencing homelessness who qualify for services under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act; and students in foster care that qualify. Based on current routing estimates and on CDE’s social distancing guidance, PSD will likely bus fewer than 1,400 students who legally require transportation.
PSD will notify families whose students qualify for this transportation with a confirmation of transportation services and route information after Aug. 1.
Since we initially shared PSD's current bussing plans on June 17, we want families to know we are continuing conversations with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment and other public health, education and community partners to determine if we can have more students per bus. If it's determined we can bus additional students, we will establish criteria for their selection. If CDE guidance changes and allows for more than 10 riders on a standard bus, PSD may be able to provide transportation services to additional students.
As a result, families who don't qualify for initial legally required busing, but feel they need transportation, are asked to apply online between June 17-July 1. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. July 1. Application is NOT a guarantee of transportation services.
Eligibility requirements will be determined later and may include students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch benefits and students who live some distance from their neighborhood schools. If PSD can offer transportation to a broader cohort of students, the district will notify families if their application has been approved. This likely would not occur until early August or later.
Because of uncertainty about whether or when CDE might expand rider totals and the time required to complete the puzzle-like work of preparing bus routes, it is possible that PSD may not be in a position to offer transportation beyond legally-required transportation at the beginning of the school year. Looking ahead, if social distancing requirements are either relaxed or lifted entirely, PSD may be able to offer bussing to more students. Only the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment or state officials can make decisions about social distancing and other required measures to stop the spread of the virus.
PSD will not provide bussing for any school-of-choice students, regardless of the school they attend, during the 2020-21 school year.
Families should not expect further communication about bussing until at least Aug. 1 and only if they have applied. Those with questions may contact the Transportation department at firstname.lastname@example.org.