MRH board member announces plan to vote for remote start for the fall

Maplewood Richmond Heights School District board member, Nikylan Knapper, announced on Facebook Tuesday her intention to vote for a remote start to the upcoming school year.

The Board will hold a special work session at 6:30 p.m. on July 23. This is the video link, supplied by the school district.

From Nikylan Knapper:

Transparent. During my campaign for MRH School Board, I told community members I would be transparent and tell you what I would vote for and why. So, allow me to be transparent now.

I will vote for a remote start for the fall. I will not vote to return students and teachers into school when COVID-19 cases are increasing in our region. I refuse to accept Governor Parson’s normalcy of MRH students becoming sick from COVID-19 and just going home to recover. And, I refuse to accept his failure to address what happens to teachers when they contract COVID-19 from their students. I will vote for a remote start because I refuse to put the lives of our students and teachers at risk of harm from a deadly virus.

I will also seek to address concerns community members have with the re-entry plan for ECC and MRHE, which essentially calls for them to return to school 5 days a week like everything is back to normal. Scientists and the St. Louis County Health Department state that we are not back to normal.

Finally, I would like you to know what I believe a public education to be. Public education is a radical action that was born from the first civil rights movement, which was the Reconstruction Era. Public education was created to ensure poor children during that time would receive an education. Public education was included into state constitutions to ensure education would be a fundamental right.

For me and many people of color, public education is freedom. Public education is a way out of poverty. It is a way to uplift a community and a nation.

Public education is not childcare and certified teachers are not babysitters. They are learned professionals who have studied, trained, and dedicated their lives to teach children. The narrative that K-6 is childcare is deplorable to me. And, thinking that our schools should serve as childcare centers so people can return to work during a spike in COVID-19 cases in order to uplift the economy is deplorable to me too. Further, it is not educational equity. I recognize the financial struggles people have and will have if their children cannot return to school like they did in the past. I sincerely sympathize with the financial toll my vote could have on you and your family. I am sincerely sorry. But I need you to live. I need you and your children and our teachers to live.

I am only one of seven votes. My view, my beliefs and my dependence on science belong to me alone. I just want to keep my word and be transparent in my actions and views regarding this pandemic and its effect on public education and our community.

Yours in service,
Nikylan Knapper

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