Private school in Lee County remains open despite governor’s recommendations

Published: March 18, 2020 9:51 PM EDT
Updated: March 19, 2020 8:51 AM EDT

Florida public schools are closed until at least April 15 to stop the spread of coronavirus, But right here in Lee County, Gospel Baptist Church and School is choosing to stay open.

“We didn’t see any real, valid reason for canceling schools for a few reasons. Number one, in junior high and high school, when you release those children, where do they go? They go to the beach, they group somewhere else and that is without control,” said Head Pastor William Lytell.

He says many students also have two working parents. “Our parents want us to stay open and are thanking us for staying open.”

But a grandmother of a student at the school says that she’s furious and her family has openly expressed their concerns. She was too scared to be identified.

“I have a grandchild that is telling me that they’re told only old people get it and die,” she said. “This is going to prevent me from seeing them as it should if I follow the national protocol.”

While the pastor says the school classroom size averages about 10 kids per room, the church remains open.

“Our church here is also having services. We have 200-250 people here,” Lytell said. “They come voluntarily, they understand the risk. They’re older people, ‘Hey, I’m in the risk group.'”

But the grandmother says the kids pray in the church during the school day, and in a recent email from the school, the field day set for next week is still on.

“How can you not think that having a three-legged race is appropriate,” she asked. “It’s putting society at risk and if it’s because they don’t get the funding they feel that they need to stay open, I think that that’s a far cry.”

The pastor did say they are monitoring the virus every day.