A photograph, a wave, a shout from a classroom. Those three things started a swirl of controversy on Woburn Patch's Facebook page yesterday.
Sen. Scott Brown, followed by a crowd of out-of-town supporters, visited Woburn yesterday afternoon at the Reeves Elementary School polls. As he walked into the building, a group of students waved frantically from their classroom. The senator waved, and one child shouted, "We love you, Scott!"
As Brown left, a group of children gathered on the stairs with their teacher, and the senator impulsively ran up to greet them, shaking hands with many children.
The photographs were posted on Woburn Patch, prompting criticism from readers:
"My kid goes to Reeves and I'm troubled that any candidate would show up in the middle of the school day for a partisan love-in... Brown should have waited until school was out." — TW Lock, via e-mail.
"This is awful—I have nothing against Scott Brown, but the added danger [of] him being at a building full if students could pose [sic] is not ok! We as a community have to get voting out of public schools or at least not have students in the building on election days!!!!" — Kristina Barrucci Peitzsch, via Facebook.
But one reader supported the use of public schools as pollings places:
"I've lived in Woburn my entire life and no child has ever been hurt because of voting. Maybe it is actually setting a good example of how a democracy works." — Julie Fay Marlowe, via Facebook.
UPDATE: After reading several comments from residents, Woburn Patch contacted Asst. Supt. Gary Reese this morning for the School Department's thoughts:
"Both the school staff, as well as the police department, work together to provide a safe voting situation for the community. At no time were the students at risk from our perspective. We appreciate the feedback from the community and we will continue to look at that as we move forward… There were no members of the public using Kindergarten bathrooms at Goodyear while students were present." — Asst. Supt. Gary Reese, via telephone.
Now it's your turn. Tell us how you feel: Should Woburn have closed schools during the election? Or should the city keep students in schools and use it as a teachable moment?