CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Election Day meant a day off for students across western Massachusetts.
“On a big Election Day like this, national elections, we just didn’t want to take a chance,” said Chicopee Public Schools Superintendent Richard Rege.
On Election Day morning, the Patrick Bowe Elementary School in Chicopee was bustling with voters. The polling station was not far from where students would usually be learning – if they had school. Superintendent Rege said for the past three years, students have had Election Day off for safety reasons. “All of these people coming through our doors, most of whom we don’t know, and with generally one police officer on at each site, we just didn’t feel that security was high enough,” said Superintendent Rege.
22News found dozens of school districts, from Holyoke to Springfield to Wilbraham, had also closed schools for students. Some, like Springfield, still had a teacher professional development day.
Many school districts like Chicopee did not have primary voting day off from school. The superintendent said that’s because the school year had just begun, and they didn’t expect voter turnout to be as high as it is on Election Day, so they didn’t think extra security measures were needed.
Jessica Culloo of Chicopee was grateful her children didn’t have to go to school. She told 22News, “There’s so many distractions and so many people that, you know, I also enjoy spending time being home with them for a day too!” She brought them with her to vote, so they could experience the process.
Other parents, like Efrain Aviles of Chicopee, also found it important to bring their children to the voting booth. Aviles said, “I just want her to know that we all have a voice if we vote and we can be heard if you vote. If you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice, you don’t have a choice.”
It was a civics lesson all children could learn…outside the classroom.