Strangers entering schools: How districts kept students safe on voting days

More than a dozen schools in Springfield were polling centers, but students still had a full day of classes

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Every day, students and teachers are locked inside the school building to stay safe. However, on voting days, strangers are encouraged to come into the schools that double as polling centers to cast their ballots.

Agawam Schools Superintendent William Sapelli said they use professional development days to avoid problems; “We schedule at least one of those days on the actual Election Day in November so that we don’t have students in school at that time. And what we try to do on the primary days is to have a half day of professional development, so for half the day, the students are not in the building.”

At Agawam Junior High School, voting was in the back of the building, far from the main entrance. “When it involves any students in the school, I kind of keep my eye outside to make sure there’s no traffic concerns,” said Michael Mercadante, who has served as an election constable for the past eight years in Agawam.

More than a dozen schools in Springfield were also polling centers, but students still had a full day of classes. At the Frederick Harris School in Springfield, the polling center was in the library, right across the hallway from the classrooms.

Springfield Schools Spokeswoman Azell Cavaan said they had police officers at each school polling center, in addition to their school resource officers, and administrators try to keep the students away from the voting area. At Frederick Harris, there were two Springfield police officers patrolling the halls.

Students in Holyoke, Chicopee, East Longmeadow and West Springfield, among other districts, still had a normal school day as voters rotated through the building.

To find out where your polling center is, click here.

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