OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY) — The president of the St. Landry Parish NAACP has sent a letter to numerous state and local officials asking that schools not be reopened in the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NAACP #6088 President Rev. Frank Ford sent the letter to Gov. John Bel Edwards, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and to the St. Landry Parish School Board.
In it, he calls upon his own experiences as a pastor, a business owner and a civic leader during the COVID-19 outbreak. As a pastor, he said he’s had to close his church. As a funeral home owner, he’s had to adopt numerous safety strategies. As the NAACP president, he’s seen the disease disproportionately affect African-Americans.
Ford’s entire letter is printed below:
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began and cases accelerated across the United States, in Louisiana and in St Landry Parish, I found myself in a position that I frankly never thought I would experience as a frontline worker.
I am speaking today from three different leadership viewpoint to communicate my perspective and our community concerns.
As Pastor of the Community Chapel Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Opelousas, LA
As owner of Ford & Joseph Funeral Home Inc. in Opelousas, LA
As President of St Landry Parish Branch of the NAACP, in Opelousas, LA
Many people have become sick with COVID-19, more and more of my family members and members of my community are testing positive for COVID-19. As pastor of COGIC, I have not been back in service physically within my church, our services are online. I refuse to have member of the congregation to become exposed to COVID 19.
Coping with the dying and loss of a loved one can be a very emotional experience. It is that much more difficult during a crisis like the COVID-19 outbreak when even wakes and funerals have been curtailed.
As owner of Ford & Joseph Funeral Home, we have to adopt appropriate infection prevention and control procedures, precautionary strategies are used to minimize public health risks and to prevent spread of disease with funeral workers handling more bodies potentially infected with COVID-19,
As President of St Landry Parish Branch of the NAACP, I witness the COVID-19’s impact on my community and the disproportionate effects on African Americans.
The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted minimum safety standards for reopening schools this fall, a day before the July 15 deadline set in Act 9 last month.
As a frontline witness worker. I am asking the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to reevaluate their options as Louisiana is emerging as COVID-19 hotspot.
We have seen the effect of COVID-19 upon the economics of our city and state, many businesses are closed and may not be able to reopen.
We are in the midst of a pandemic outbreak, and a movement to call out racial injustices, and our Community is no exception. I am releasing a statement to our Louisiana State Governor, John Bel Edwards, to BESE Louisiana and to St Landry Parish School Board:
By reopening our schools and socializing in large groups, COVID 19 would not go away!
These challenges underscore an immediate and terrible situation for vulnerable children and families.
I make this clear again to the leader of our state and school system, let’s not reopen our schools and expose our children to this deadly virus.President Rev. Frank Ford