Letter to the Editor: Burba responds to KSD back-to-school plan


Olivia Silvey

KSD has begun to reopen the KHS campus for in-person learning.

November 5 – TKC received the following email written by Rowan Burba, senior, to KHS administrators regarding their response to the COVID-19 pandemic and plans to return for in-person learning. 


Administrators of KHS,


Although my concerns prompting my emails to Mrs. V originally stemmed from cadeting, I have discovered many other injustices with the plans to return. If Zoom is best I am happy to Zoom but I can also outline everything in emails. 


Although the plans to return look great on paper, seeing the past patterns (especially with sports and the drive through pickups) I do not trust that these guidelines will be sufficiently met. I regularly observe the adults failing to comply with their own guidelines for mask wearing. If the adults cannot meet their own guidelines in small numbers, the outlook for two thousand people meeting those guidelines is incredibly slim. Maplewood/Richmond Heights is not even considering going back until at least January and KHS has not given students, parents, and teachers anywhere near enough of a voice in this process. Even if I choose to stay home, many teachers and students won’t be so lucky and will suffer. The guidelines for taking medical leave have already changed and the district, [as stated in the article “Call Ed: KSD, you have failed us”], is failing and has failed us as a student body and is failing the teachers to the same if not a greater extent.


Before the district actually gives the option to go back in person, it needs to send surveys to all the high school students, parents, and teachers so KHS can see people’s legitimate rationale behind everything. I am a very vocal and outspoken person. I am this way because I have to speak up for all of those that KHS has previously silenced. Change starts at a local level and I will fight the district to ensure that change. People’s lives and health matter far more than monetary incentives the government has to push schools to open again. The truth of everyone’s thoughts on safety lie within how KH Players could not perform in Keating but had to go to the ampitheatre, how the choir wanted to practice in their room but had to go outside, and how at every recent opportunity the school denies use of the building to the majority of clubs and organizations. If it is too risky to hold clubs inside of the school it is exponentially more dangerous to hold classes there. The risks don’t cherry pick events that they will and will not attend. Going along with this, teachers must have the opportunity to teach classes from zoom and have a substitute or walking counselor present in their room at school to monitor the COVID-19 guidelines. Regardless of how amazing a substitute may be, they are unable to teach a class up to their full potential when the students have already gotten comfortable with their old teachers. Even with substitutes and teachers on leave, there are many who want and need to be on leave but no longer have that option because of the changing rules about what qualifies or does not qualify for that. If you force teachers that are unable to take medical leave but who should be allowed to and were previously able to take it, you are putting their lives and the lives of their families in unnecessary danger.  


The goal of KHS, regardless of previous claims, is no longer safety. It is to rush people back and deregulate actual precautions such as the safety of teachers while overly controlling the minute and insignificant details such as a virtual cadet. As I stated at the start of this email, I may have begun this process because of grievances about cadeting but after exploring the situation further I see the KHS administration’s injustice. 


I implore you to follow these suggestions and reverse these injustices. I have been relatively silent about the systemic issues within our school these past four years (and yet you have still seen how vocal I am) but I, along with other seniors, will not stand by and watch Kirkwood ignore its harsh and ugly realities. I am privileged to have an option to stay home, this email is to speak for all of those who only have an illusion of that option.


This is your chance: be the leaders who change this destructive cycle,