When I entered Berkeley Township Elementary School tonight, I thought I was attending a celebration of amazing students and teachers.  I had no idea I was attending a rally or protest.  However, I soon found myself surrounded by "protestors."  Here's what happened.

Credit: JB

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When you've got a 10-year old and a 1-year old, any night can be an adventure.  This was certainly one, but not for the reason I expected.  The night started with a Little League game at Leiter Field.  Due to a special ceremony scheduled for BTES starting at 7, my son was only able to play 1 inning of his game and then we had to jump in the car.  Hence, the start of the adventure.  I put the pedal to the metal and we arrived swiftly to meet my wife and another son.  We were greeted by a police officer at the door.  It seemed a little odd, but I thought it was a sign of a commitment to safety and security.

Credit: JB

Everyone masked up to enter the building and the crowd started filling chairs.  A ceremony began and the Teacher of the Year was announced for each elementary school. The audience, filled with students and families, cheered and clapped loudly.  Winners included Stephanie Rosetti, Christine Firetto, Victoria Guy, and Arlene Comstock.  Educational Support Professional Awards were also given to Kim Lipinski and Gifted & Talented teachers Marianne Cicco and Regina Avenoso.  As the festivities continued, the crowd size swelled.  I started noticing bigger groups carrying large signs...and they weren't to cheer on the staff or students.

Credit: JB

"Free The Smiles" read the top half.  "Stop Masking Children" read the bottom half. These "protestors" were mothers, fathers, and concerned citizens. Allowing children to attend school without masks has been a point of contention in my family and throughout much of our Ocean County community.  Just today our radio station published articles like Governor "Murphy Expects NJ Elementary Students To Wear Masks In Fall of 2021" and "Toms River School Board President Pleads With Governor To End Mask Mandate In Schools."  Clearly, people are very passionate about this situation.  So, how do you feel?

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