WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4) – As communities work to continue the rebuild process following the massive earthquake in 2020, the Granite School District is taking extreme measures to make sure students are safe.

Today Granite School District is officially breaking ground on the building for West Lake STEM Junior High school, the original building suffered significant damage in the 5.7 magnitude quake on March 18, 2020.

The quake came at an ironic time as many school districts had just begun distance learning due to COVID-19, “had we had students in the school or faculty, there may have been injuries” says Ben Horsley of the Granite School District. While things could have been way worse, the effects did cause a shift for students when in-person learning returned as they had to relocate temporarily to a school in Taylorsville.

Recently, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved additional funds to help cover repair costs for damages caused by the earthquake.

However, Horsley says “we’re still seeking funds to help reimburse costs for the new West Lake Jr High project, but our insurance is covering the bulk of the costs along with funds from our emergency bond authority, so we don’t have out that on taxpayers.”

The new West Lake Junior High will use a model currently utilized by Hidden Valley middle school, “that’s a cost saving feature” Horsley says as the school is already using many innovative technologies.

The 2020 quake is also prompting Granite School District officials to make updates and renovations to other schools ” we still have a dozen school in that situation that need facility renovations” says Horsley.

The district is about 80% done with most of the projects

Granite School District says the new and renovated West Lake STEM Junior High is anticipated to open for class in 2024.