Dear Wendy Van Wie,
I would like to kindly respond to your request for the removal of two Peoria Unified School District board members due to continuing a mask mandate, but I will do it with tears in my eyes, and I truly hope that you will listen to my story and reconsider.
My son, who is a PUSD student, was diagnosed with a rare form of acute myeloid leukemia in 2019, and underwent vigorous cancer treatments, isolation, and a bone marrow transplant to save his life. He came out of the hospital in March of 2020 to COVID-19 and a school shut down. I have never seen a school like Centennial High School rally around one of their own the way that they did with my son, wearing #judestrong jerseys, bracelets, car stickers and with #judestrong displayed daily on the kiosk reminding them that one of their fellow Coyotes was fighting for his life.
You may never understand the affects and the toll that isolation has on a 15-year-old until your own is confined and alone in a room for two years, but it was imperative for his mental health that he attend in-person school when it reopened. When the board made the decision to open back up during COVID-19, the kids attending school were not only following guidelines by wearing masks, but were learning a very important lesson about compassion toward their fellow classmates including staff members who were compromised who could contact a highly transmissible virus that could potentially be deadly to them.
While you were attending meetings and fighting the board to remove the masks, we and a number of family and friends, including my son, were quietly in our home sending e-mails pleading to continue with the mask mandate to protect our son’s life and others at the school who we knew were going through cancer treatments, including teachers we knew who were vulnerable and wanted to continue teaching in the classrooms.
My question Wendy is this: why do you tirelessly attend board meetings and yell and get up in the board members’ faces who want to simply protect and care for their students and staff? What benefit is this to you and your group?
I will kindly ask that you not spend your energy trying to petition and remove board members for caring for our son and others, and rather expend your energy on continuing to support the PUSD standards for compassion.
Public schools were built and designed to care for all students, families, and their staff in the community, and compassion for others should be a high standard in any education system.
My son was able to make it through the school year without contracting COVID-19 and being readmitted to the hospital, with thanks to the compassion of all of the board members, the school, and the community who truly cared by wearing masks. For this we will forever be grateful to PUSD and I would hope that you can share this same compassion for my son and our family and other members of your community.
I kindly ask that you stop the petition trying to remove two board members who truly cared for those within the district.
Editor's note: Monique Taetle is a resident of Peoria.