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School nurse who said masks were harmful to students suspended

A school nurse in New Jersey who claimed masks were not effective in protecting against the coronavirus and suggested requiring children to wear them is inhumane has been suspended. 

Erin Pein, who refused to wear a mask herself while on the job at the school, said she was suspended by the Stafford Township school district, NJ.com reported

In a YouTube video posted last week, Pein said of the children in her district: “The masks unfortunately don’t prevent them from getting COVID. Because the viruses are so small, it can’t be stopped with a mask." 

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Gov. Phil Murphy (D) issued an order last year that mandated students who return to in-person learning in school buildings wear a mask at all times, except while eating of if they had certain medical conditions.

Parents who do not wish to have their children wear a mask while in a school building had the option of continuing using remote learning. 

In the video, Pein said forcing a child to wear a mask amounts to "child abuse" and can cause "anxiety and depression” due to what she described as the altering of how young children “learn how to be adults by recognizing faces and facial expressions.”

"Making these kids wear them for six or seven hours a day is awful,” she said. 

Stephanie Silvera, an expert on epidemiology at Montclair State University, told NJ.com Pein's claims are false and are a prime example of misinformation entering the mainstream of public life during the pandemic. 

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

The Stafford Township school district declined to comment to the outlet on Pein's suspension, which her supporters reportedly plan to protest at the district's next school board meeting. 

“Unfortunately, it is a personnel matter and I do not have the ability to comment or discuss the matter, nor can I discuss any of the information that Ms. Pein has already chosen to make public,” school board attorney Martin Buckley said.