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COVID-19 impacts travel in Southern Colorado

Posted at 11:13 AM, Mar 12, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Two school districts in Southern Colorado have temporarily canceled school-sponsored and district-sponsored travel in response to the spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19. In a letter to parents Wednesday, Pueblo School District 60 Superintendent Charlotte Macaluso said the travel restriction applies to planned out-of-state and international trips through the end of March.

Academy District 20 Superintendent J. Thomas Gregory notified parents in a similar letter sent Thursday morning. However, the D-20 travel restriction extends through April 15. Both school leaders said that these restrictions could be extended in the future and that they will notify families as soon as possible.

"I understand this is disappointing news to some students, staff, and families," Gregory wrote. "However, during an infectious disease pandemic, we must first consider the safety and wellbeing of the greater Academy District 20 community."

Allison Cortez, Director of Communication for District 20, said Spring Break is a popular time for educational conferences and seminars that teachers and staff attend. Many sports teams and clubs also have regional or national competitions that occur this time of year.

"We had a team going to Florida, we had a team going to Arizona, we had a team going to Virginia," she said. "We know that they look forward to that every year and that's a really big deal for them, but we didn't want to put that ahead of their safety."

Schools can't tell parents not to travel with their families over Spring Break. However, if a family's personal travel plans include international destinations where COVID-19 activity is considered community spread, then they could be ordered to self-quarantine for up to 14 days.

The impacts of COVID-19 can be felt across the travel industry. Mark Bingham is a pilot who flies with the Colorado Springs based charter service Colorado By Air. He said may business clients have been canceling their flights.

"They're canceling because the convention was canceled, or the meetings; companies are saying, look, we can do these meetings over the phone or we can do it with FaceTime or Skype," Bingham said.

However, he's also seen an increase in the number of charter bookings coming from clients who want to fly for leisure but want to avoid big crowds at airports.

"A traveler who still needs to get somewhere, but they have some concerns about flying into a major hub like DIA or DFW or LaGuardia," he said.