A school where the principal encouraged students to attend school during lockdown for their mental health is now facing an outbreak numbering at least 30 students and staff.
The Fitzroy Community School in Fitzroy North, Melbourne was identified yesterday by Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer Dan O’Brien after at least 30 students and staff tested positive.
‘It looks like the case numbers are at least 30 but it’s growing from there,’ Mr O’Brien said.
At least 30 students and staff tested positive at Fitzroy Community Centre at Fitzroy North, Melbourne
Victoria reported 392 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases on Sunday, as Melbourne remains in lockdown
The independent, ‘alternative’ primary school had posted links to numerous articles on its website about the dangers of lockdowns to the mental health of children and the minimal risk of Covid-19 to children,
The Age reported an email it obtained from the principal, Timothy Berryman, sent to parents in early June that encouraged parents to send their children to the school as Victoria remained in lockdown.
‘I cannot in good conscience continue to request that you continue to keep your children at home,’ the email read.
‘Please feel free to send your child to school if you feel that this is best for them or best for your family balance. I do not write this lightly, as this does breach government imposed directives for schools.’
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
A local who lives near the school said in an online post that the school, as part of the local community, had an obligation to follow health rules ‘for themselves and all those around them.’
‘Did the school follow DHHS directives for remote learning? Did they have adequate Covid protocols for staff and students? Were symptomatic staff or students present at the school during the last week, and how was this addressed?’ asked the community member.
‘Bloody disgusting that the school was not following the health directives,’ wrote another person on the Vic Exposure Sites Facebook group.
Under the ‘Information’ section of the school’s website, links to articles from around the world which question the effect of lockdowns on the mental health of children had been posted.
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.’
Victoria recorded 392 new coronavirus infections on Sunday.
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.
It’s not clear as yet whether all school years would return to class at the same time, nor what restrictions would be placed on students attending classes.
The decision is reportedly dependent on Burnet Institute modelling, with scenarios drafted by the Victorian Department of Education awaiting Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton’s approval based on the modelling.
Darcy Wain, 15, receives a Pfizer vaccination at the Royal Exhibition Building Covid-19 Vaccination Hub in Melbourne
From today, children aged between 12 and 15 years will be able to book a Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine.
Bookings will be available through GPs and Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics.
‘I would encourage all parents from September 13 to visit the eligibility checker and book your child in for their vaccination, so we can ensure all Australians are protected from COVID-19,’ Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said.