‘Smooth transition’ back to school for Honey Grove students

HONEY GROVE — Despite starting the school year during the Covid-19 pandemic after a nearly six-month break from campus, the first week and a half has been a “really smooth transition” for Honey Grove Elementary School, Principal Ashley Odom said.

Despite the lengthy break from school, the students are happy to be back in the class, Odom shared with the district’s trustees on Monday. They are wearing their masks, wiping down used surfaces and are quiet in the morning, she said. And when it comes to keeping her building clean, the district’s custodians “are killing it,” she said.

“Mr. Wilson, Jerry the janitor, is the employee of the year so far, without a doubt,” Superintendent Todd Morrison said in his report to trustees. “He sprays, and that’s all he does all day long. … He told me today that he’s lost 8 pounds in two weeks, which I definitely believe because he’s at all three campuses.

“I feel really good about what we’re doing. Like I told you guys at the beginning, I can’t promise you that it’s all going to work, but I feel good.”

The district has issued two reports of students testing positive for Covid-19 since the school year started Sept. 2. Both cases were high school students and were unrelated, Morrison said. The student in the first case, reported Sept. 3, has since recovered and is “healthy, well, back to school,” he said. The second case, reported Monday, is that of a transfer student who enrolled Friday. He and his family are quarantining at home, Morrison said. In a letter posted to the district’s website, Morrison said the district determined “no students or staff has experienced prolonged exposure” and “all students in close proximity to the positive cases were wearing masks.”

“We feel like our parents are doing a pretty good job of screening, taking temperatures,” the superintendent said, sharing with trustees that campus staff also are testing temperatures before students are allowed in.

That’s resulted in some fairly long drop-off lines at the elementary school even though there are three people checking temperatures. Morrison asks parents to bear with the district as the goal is to prevent an outbreak that could end in-person classes and sports seasons.

This is Homecoming Week for Honey Grove High School, and Morrison reported that homecoming is a go albeit with some Covid-19 related changes. There will be no parade this year and no warrior games, he shared, but sign building is still a go and so is the district’s pep rally. That’s scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday with the stadium set to host 50% of its capacity, or about 800 people. Morrison estimated students and staff would account for about 700 people, and so seniors’ and homecoming nominees’ families and decade alumni are prioritized among the remaining 100. Staff will measure entrance and when there are 800 people, anyone else attending will be asked to watch from outside of the stadium’s fence, Morrison said.

Although the forecast looks good, in the case of inclement weather, the rally will be moved into the gymnasium, which would host only about 500 people. An informational letter about Homecoming Week is available on the district’s website,, and Facebook page.

In other business, every student in the district will receive free breakfast and lunch because the U.S. Department of Agriculture reopened its Summer Food Program through Dec. 31 or until funds run out, Morrison shared with trustees. The free meals began Monday. Morrison said the district will revert back to its normal meal program after the government program has run its course. Any student’s account balance will remain until the traditional program is back.

Morrison also touched base on campus enrollment, telling trustees the district now has 617 students, down just 30 from the last school year. Approximately 13% of students, about 80, have opted for remote learning.

Trustees also learned the district scored a perfect 100 on its Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, a financial accountability rating system. They also approved a resolution on the extracurricular status of the 4-H organization of Lamar County and approved the district’s asynchronous learning plan.

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