STAFFORD – Hundreds of people crowded outside the Stafford Township Arts Center chanting “no more masks,” protesting the mask mandate.
Residents from all over the state of New Jersey came to the protest rally in support of Erin Pein, a school nurse who was suspended from the township district after she stopped wearing a face mask to work.
“I have seen your kids being hurt. I’ve seen them being hurt physically, emotionally and developmentally. These masks are not ok. We have to stop it and this is starting right now. This is a movement… we are not going to stop until this is over,” Pein said.
The Stafford Township Board of Education (BOE) was holding its monthly session while protesters gathered outside not only fighting to end the mask mandate, but fighting for Pein’s job. The BOE was scheduled to discusses Pein’s future within the district.
Members of the Stafford Township BOE voted to not renew Erin Pein’s contract for next year and she will remain suspended for the rest of this school year without pay.
“Masks are ineffective at preventing COVID,” Pein said. “The kids that do get COVID are 99.997 percent going to survive it. So to mask them for six or seven hours (a day) is just out of this world.”
Many protesters held signs stating “unmask New Jersey children,” “stop the abuse,” “support nurse Erin Pein.” A mother and her son waved signs saying “save our babies,” and the boy holding a “I can’t breathe” sign.
Phil Rizzo and Hirsh Singh, two Republican candidates running for governor, were some of the many speakers that attended and addressed the protest. Alongside them Stafford Township Councilman George Williams spoke out against the mask mandate.
“I want to thank everyone coming here to Manahawkin to show your support for Erin and to finally get these masks off these kids… enough is enough. We’re done.” Williams said.
Many New Jersey residents took to Facebook to post about Pein’s situation and their thoughts about the mask mandate. Several supported and agreed with Pein’s concerns:
“I agree with the nurse. As a nurse she knows that children wearing a mask is not beneficial,” Debbie Buttiglieri wrote.
“So PROUD of her for standing up for the health (mental and physical) of the children,” Dolores Pulaski wrote.
“Children should not be masked. It’s bad for their health. Masks don’t stop Corona virus, read the packaging. Stop listening to the regulatory agencies – they are not motivated by your best interests,” Lisa Mazzuca of Brick wrote.
Vincent Gallo wrote “This courageous woman is doing what’s right. Legislators make laws. These aren’t laws. There is No scientific proof masks work. Enough is enough!”
Sarah Creutzinger, a pediatric nurse replied to Gallo stating, “send this ‘courageous’ woman into the respiratory unit at Community and have her spend a night laying next to a covid patient. See how that fares.”
Along with Creutzinger, numerous people posted how they were against the protest, expressing how Pein and protesters are spreading misinformation.
“How would all of these women rallying to ‘unmask’ children feel if they lost one of their school children to COVID?! Would they still support this nonsense or would they then follow what the scientists and doctors are telling them?! I hope they have an awakening soon, before something tragic happens there,” Sharon Graziano Snyder wrote.
“This is awful. I’m grateful that my children aren’t at this school. I hate that my 5- and 2-year-olds have to wear masks, but the fact is that science says they need to in order to protect themselves and others. So, my kids will be masked up until science says it’s not necessary,” Deanna Kazarnowicz Murphy wrote.
“Shameful that a medical professional who is tasked with taking care of our children should politicize and spread misinformation. Doctors and nurses in hospitals wear masks for 8 plus hours a day and survive without incident. Instead of complaining that kids aren’t wearing masks properly, perhaps take this as a learning opportunity to teach them the proper way. First do no harm and follow the oath you took to save lives. I do not have kids in district anymore, but I stand with the CDC, Dr. Fauci and Science and the Board of Ed on this one,” Milissa Wilk Larstanna wrote.
“This is actually quite horrific. I’m shocked that a school nurse would act in this way, endangering her colleagues, students and all of the families connected to these people in the school community. Wow,” Jessica Romeo wrote.
“She shouldn’t be a licensed nurse. Thank you to the school district for taking action,” Gigi Gregg wrote.
“She should follow her employer rules. And being in the health care system she should no better,” Amy Archer of Manahawkin wrote.
“If your “beliefs” interfere with your ability to do your job, then find a different job,” Jennie Macaroni-Grouper wrote.
“Your employer has rules and if you cannot follow them, you don’t work there anymore…” Christina Abdulfayzov wrote.
“Scary this woman is a Nurse…OMG! She should be fired for not being too bright…..and insubordination,” Madeline Valenti wrote.
“The school boards are going to follow the state’s guidelines for as long as they are in place. These folks aren’t bringing their grievances to the right place,” Matthew Kenney wrote. “As far as this Nurse goes, she made her decision to go against her superior’s direction. It is her right to make that decision. However, she is not immune to the consequences of that decision.”