COVID-19 cases surge days before schools open in Elysian Fields and Harleton, TX

Elysian Fields classes begin Monday

HARRISON COUNTY, Tx. (KSLA) - Harrison County Judge Chad Sims reports 17 new cases on Friday, as both Elysian Fields and Harleton ISD schools are set to open their doors Monday morning.

For the 885 students who attend the three schools in the Elysian Fields Independent School District, this Friday marked the final weekday of their extended summer break.

We spent part of this day speaking with parents in Elysian Fields, a village near the state line, just over 30 miles west of Shreveport.

The first day of school will be the first time for classes to be held there since the end of March, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the abrupt closure of schools.

Elysian Fields ISD administrators said they were too swamped to hold an interview. However, people in the community south of Marshall, Texas had plenty to say.

Leslie Speakes, whose two school-age children return to class on Monday, says she’s equally worried about other family members as well.

“I take care of my older father. So them having additional exposure puts him at greater risk,” says Speakes.

She also said she did not think it was safe enough for students to return to the classroom.

Elysian Fields Elementary School custodian, Laura Yosten, who has three children of her own enrolled in the school district, said, ”My kids are ready to go back to school, and every campus is completely prepared.”

Sabrina Gibble, a Dairy Queen employee from Marshall, Texas, had a special delivery to make: 60 blizzards to the middle school, where she saw lots of smiling faces.

“It was very good actually. They’re all very happy. It looks like they’re ready to start back,” says Gibble.

Elysian Fields ISD Assistant Superintendent Monica Simmons says they are excited for the new school year ahead and are ready both academically and with COVID-19 restrictions in place.

Parents are offered a choice for their child to attend school in-person or virtual-only instruction online, in what many call distance learning.

Some parents, like Aisha Hill, told us choosing virtual-only for their child was really the only option.

“My daughter has severe asthma. So, I just felt very uncomfortable with her going,” says Hill.

Leslie Speakes has similar concerns.

“You know, when you get a group of people, grownups, kids, teachers, students, whatever, together, things are gonna happen. It’s just the way of nature,” says Speakes.

Custodian Laura Yosten says she wants the public to know their number one priority is student safety.

“We’re trying to make sure that every parent feels comfortable enough to send their kids back to school,” started Yosten.

“And every custodian on every campus is COVID-certified to clean everything. And we’ve all went through training and you know, we’ve all got certificates and we’re all ready to go.”

Elysian Fields will ease into this new school year with a half-day schedule on Monday, August 10.

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