33.1 C
Delhi
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
spot_img

Fitzroy Community School principal who told parents to send kids to class during lockdown speaks out


A principal who sparked a Covid-19 outbreak after encouraging kids to come to class says all schools should be open to all students in lockdown.

Timothy Berryman said children ‘get runny noses’ all the time and are more likely to get hit by a car than catch coronavirus.

The Fitzroy Community School in Melbourne‘s inner-city has been linked to 31 Covid-19 cases after refusing to close classrooms during Victoria’s sixth lockdown.

Mr Berryman, whose 11-year-old son caught the virus, said the threat the virus posed to children was extremely low and mild illness was ‘inevitable’.  

‘It’s a bit like saying some children will drown and some children get run over,’ he told the Today show on Tuesday. 

‘But we haven’t stopped them going on scooters and riding their bikes and getting in cars. We accept that that risk is part of it.’

His mother Faye Berryman – who founded the ‘alternative’ school in Melbourne’s inner-suburbs – appeared on Sunrise just moments before.

Mrs Berryman was cut off by host Natalie Barr after she defended keeping the school open to all students.

At least 30 students and staff tested positive at Fitzroy Community Centre at Fitzroy North, Melbourne

Poll

Should kids be back at school?

  • Yes – it’s unfair now the most at-risk are jabbed 24 votes
  • No – case numbers are still far too high 25 votes
  • I’m not sure 4 votes

‘The government are telling people only to send their kids to school if they are essential workers – not to do their own research and decide themselves,’ Barr said.

Ms Berryman replied: ‘We didn’t want to be forced into doing something that was against our conscience.

‘We always hope that the legal rules line up with the model rules, but teachers were being forced to go against their conscience.’

Barr then abruptly ended the interview by admonishing the educator and telling her she threatened the wellbeing of the wider community.

‘The trouble is that Melbourne has hundreds of cases, you got a growing outbreak and people in the extended community are at risk,’ she said.

Melbourne has spent 225 days in lockdown since the pandemic began with schools closed to all but the children of essential workers during that time.

Up to 60 children were attending Fitzroy Community classes each day and more than 180 people were close contacts, making the school a Tier 1 exposure site. 

Soon after his mother was lectured on air, Mr Berryman claimed on Today the risk of children dying from Covid-19 was lower than that from drowning or road accidents.

‘The risk posed by drowning or by road accidents is about 10 times higher than Covid,’ he said.

‘When you run a primary school, you get children sick pretty much every day. Somebody calls in sick or has a runny nose.

‘While you don’t want any child to ever get the flu or get sick or get a cough or whatever, it’s actually inevitable and part of running a school.’

Fitzroy Community School Principal Timothy Berryman wrote to parents: 'Please feel free to send your child to school if you feel that this is best for them or best for your family balance'

Fitzroy Community School Principal Timothy Berryman wrote to parents: ‘Please feel free to send your child to school if you feel that this is best for them or best for your family balance’

Principal Timothy Berryman said the threat posed to children by the virus was extremely low and mild illness was 'inevitable'

The school's founder Faye Berryman said it went against her 'conscience' not to keep the classroom open during lockdown

Principal Timothy Berryman (left) said the threat posed to children by the virus was extremely low and mild illness was ‘inevitable’, while the school’s founder Faye Berryman said it went against her ‘conscience’ not to keep the classroom open during lockdown

Mr Berryman said he had tried to offer parents ‘the best of both worlds’ by giving them the option of on-site or remote learning.  

‘I don’t know if I would have said I encouraged children to come to school,’ he said. ‘I offered full classroom teaching to those who came on-site.’

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley on Monday said an investigation into the ‘alternative’ school in North Fitzroy would decide what sanction it should receive.

‘Our first priority is the wellbeing of those kids and their family and the staff,’ he said at the daily coronavirus press conference. 

Philip O'Carroll, co-founder of the Fitzroy Community School, speaks to media in Melbourne on Monday

Philip O’Carroll, co-founder of the Fitzroy Community School, speaks to media in Melbourne on Monday

‘This school has some history when it comes to sailing pretty close to chief health officer orders.

‘Our compliance people – after the priority of responding to the outbreak is dealt with – will investigate the matter and based on whatever outcomes they come up with, take appropriate action.’    

The independent primary school was identified on Monday by Victorian deputy chief health officer Dan O’Brien as the source of an outbreak affecting 31 students and staff as of Monday.

Mr Foley would not be drawn on whether Mr Berryman and the school would face fines of thousands of dollars or possible deregistration.

‘I think everyone should follow the chief health officer’s orders. And that where you don’t, there are consequences,’ he said. 

‘Not the least being kids get sick. Families get sick.’ 

VICTORIA OVERHAULS ITS VOCATIONAL EDUCATION SYSTEM

Victoria is scrapping VCAL as part of an overhaul of vocational education for senior school students.

Under new legislation set to be introduced to state parliament on Tuesday, the government will replace the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning with the Victorian Certificate of Education – Vocational Major.

The Foundation VCAL year will be replaced with the Victorian Pathways Certificate, from which students can choose VCE, entry level vocational training, or move into the workforce.

The program will be introduced from 2023.

The government says the vocational major will mean students can access more subjects, as well as doing work experience.

‘These reforms mean students will have better support and flexibility to study what they want, alongside key academic skills that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,’ Education Minister James Merlino said in making the announcement.

The government says the new program will be focused on students with additional needs, and vulnerable students at risk of leaving the school system.

Mr Berryman told parents he could not ‘in good conscience’ continue to request they kept their children at home.

‘Please feel free to send your child to school if you feel that this is best for them or best for your family balance,’ the email seen by The Age read.

‘I do not write this lightly, as this does breach government imposed directives for schools.’

He argued children should come to school to protect their mental health and transmission of Covid in children was negligible.

Mr Berryman was later warned that his encouragement to parents was in breach of health directive at the time but in late July, he continued to suggest they send their children to the school. 

‘I am again offering you all the option of sending your children to school,’ he wrote. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews would not commit to a date when students would be able to return to school in the state at Sunday's Covid-19 update

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews would not commit to a date when students would be able to return to school in the state at Sunday’s Covid-19 update

‘None of the kids who have Covid are sick,’ Mr Berryman told The Herald-Sun.

‘We have to accept that kids catch Covid at school. This will happen but it doesn’t make the kids desperately sick.’

On the ‘information’ section of the school’s website are links to numerous articles about the dangers of lockdowns to the mental health of children and the minimal risk of Covid-19 to younger people.  

On its homepage, the school states that it has its ‘own unique style of operation’. 

‘Our school has a relaxed atmosphere and good outcomes at the same time. Children are keen on learning and keen on coming to school.’ 

A local who lives near the school wrote in social media that the school, as part of the local community, had an obligation to follow health rules ‘for themselves and all those around them’.

Darcy Wain, 15, receives a Pfizer vaccination at the Royal Exhibition Building Covid-19 Vaccination Hub in Melbourne

Darcy Wain, 15, receives a Pfizer vaccination at the Royal Exhibition Building Covid-19 Vaccination Hub in Melbourne

‘Did the school follow DHHS directives for remote learning? Did they have adequate Covid protocols for staff and students?’ they wrote.

‘Were symptomatic staff or students present at the school during the last week, and how was this addressed?

‘Bloody disgusting that the school was not following the health directives,’ wrote another person on the Vic Exposure Sites Facebook group. 

The school was founded in 1976 by Philip O’Carroll and Faye Berryman in their home on Brunswick Street, North Fitzroy, from where it still operates.

It also has a second campus on Normanby Avenue in Thornbury. 

Premier Dan Andrews has yet to set a date when Victorian students might return to school.

He said on Sunday the plan for a return to face-to-face schooling would be released in another week.  



Source link

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

0FansLike
0FollowersFollow
0FollowersFollow
- Advertisement -

Latest Articles