NJ school nurse suspended after saying masks were harming students
A school nurse has been suspended from her job after refusing to wear a face mask in protest of the harm that the said the face coverings were causing children.
Erin Pein told New Jersey 101.5 that her own children and the students who she saw as a traveling nurse in the Stafford school district are suffering anxiety, rashes, headaches and stomach aches because of the governor's executive order requiring masks to be worn indoors in all schools.
"I've been getting an outpouring of emails from parents all over the place telling me that their child has strep throat, that the doctor has been telling them there's a big outbreak of it. All kinds of things that are potentially from the mask because none of them are wearing them safely," Pein told New Jersey 101.5.
Pein said she reported the problems she was seeing to her supervisor in hopes of starting a dialogue. The supervisor responded that the district was going to continue to follow the mask mandate.
"I wrote back to her and said 'hey I don't feel comfortable as a nurse. This is harming kids, this is harmful for their health and as I nurse I don't feel comfortable enforcing this knowing how harmful this is," she said.
A few days later, Pein said she told her supervisor that she didn't think just her reporting what she was seeing was going to make a difference so she was no longer going to wear a mask in school. After showing up without a mask, she was notified of the suspension, she said.
Pein said the school board will address her employment at Thursday's meeting.
Martin J. Buckley, the school district's attorney, told New Jersey 101.5 district officials cannot comment on employment matters.
Children not wearing masks correctly
Pein said that children don't put the masks on correctly and are wearing them for days without cleaning them or taking proper care of them, masks which makes them unsafe. Pein also said she had to cut a bandana mask off one boy's head because it was tied too tight.
Pein said that mask hygiene is important and that hands should be washed before putting on a mask, being careful to touch only the ear loops. It's also important to always have only one side of the mask touch the face and when done wearing it, fold it inward to protect the inside. The mask should then be placed in a sealed bag.
"If you're done wearing your mask you want to inspect it when you take it off. Look at it, make sure it doesn't have any moisture on it, it doesn't have any dirty spots, doesn't have any food on it," Pein said.
But kids being kids, most are not paying attention to the proper care and use of their mask.
"What we're seeing is these kids are taking the masks and they're putting them on their desks. They're putting them inside their bookbag. They're putting them on the floor. They're twirling them around. They're playing catch with them. They're not wearing them correctly," Pein said.
She is aware of the case of a high school track coach in New Hampshire who lost his job when he refused to enforce the state student athletic association's mandate that a mask must be worn during competition.
"You have to stand up when you see something wrong and that's the point here," she said. "My own son told me he ran a mile and a half with the mask on. He said he pulled it down a little over his mouth so that he could breath but he's still sucking it in. Everybody was having a hard time. That's abuse. That is not helping them and not preventing COVID outside."