NJ school nurse suspended for likening children wearing masks to ‘child abuse’

A school nurse in New Jersey has been suspended for saying masks are not effective in mitigating COVID-19.

Erin Pein, a nurse in the Stafford Township school district, is featured in a YouTube video that’s surprisingly still up, denouncing the use of face masks. In it, she contends that masks do not protect against the coronavirus and said requiring children to wear them is resulting in “anxiety and depression.”

A mother of three children, Pein does not wear a mask herself, a move that comes in support of her convictions, which includes the notion that masks were never intended to be worn for hours at a time.

“The masks unfortunately don’t prevent [children] from getting COVID, because the viruses are so small that it can’t be stopped with a mask,” Pein said in the video.

“So making these kids wear them for six or seven hours a day is awful,” she added. “Besides that aspect of it, you have that these masks are not being worn correctly.”

The nurse went on to explain the proper procedure, after previously saying she has not seen “a single child wearing them correctly, or staff.”

The video is from Hirsh Singh, a Republican candidate for governor of New Jersey, who believes no one should be forced to wear a mask — the irony here is that states with the most restrictive measures are among those hardest hit by the pandemic.

On that note, incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, issued an executive order last year calling for New Jersey residents to wear face masks indoors and outdoors if social distancing is not possible.

Pein explained in a TAPinto.net article why she is taking a stand on the issue.

“I came to the realization that just voicing my concerns wasn’t going to make a difference, so I decided to let my district know that I was not going to be compliant with mask wearing for myself anymore,” she said.

“I wanted to make a statement to get their attention that masking kids for six to seven hours a day is wrong,” Pein added. “I knew what the consequences would most likely be, and I still wanted to spread the word about how harmful these masks all day are for the students.”

In reporting the suspension, NJ.com rolled out the prerequisite experts to denounce the school nurse’s take.

Stephanie Silvera, an epidemiology expert and professor of public health at Montclair State University, said Pein’s claims are not true.

“I’m honestly not sure why this type of misinformation is still circulating more than a year later,” Silvera said.

She cited studies in 16 countries around the world that found mask use was associated with “a dramatic reduction in risk.”

“I have yet to see a study that substantiates the claim that mask wearing increases risk to the wearer of bacterial infections,” Silvera added. “As for the claim that this is ‘child abuse,’ that seems to be inflammatory rhetoric and opinion rather than a scientifically supported position.”

A protest in support of Pein is being planned for next Monday, which is when the next Stafford Township Elementary District’s Board of Education meeting will be held.

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Tom Tillison

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