Vic principal to contest COVID-related ban

·1-min read

A Melbourne principal will contest a temporary suspension after inviting parents to send their kids to school during lockdown before it was caught up in a COVID-19 outbreak.

Students, teachers and household contacts were among dozens of cases linked to the cluster at the Fitzroy Community School last month.

The school, which describes itself as an "independent, alternative primary school" and has about 60 students, had been inviting all parents to send their children to class in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions.

Principal Timothy Berryman has now been handed an interim suspension by the Victorian Institute of Teaching, pending an investigation. The suspension came into effect on Wednesday.

VIT has the power to suspend a teacher's registration if it forms the view "the teacher poses an unacceptable risk of harm to children" or it is "necessary to protect children".

Mr Berryman described the decision as frustrating and claimed school closures represented a "much greater risk" to children's wellbeing than the impacts of catching COVID-19.

"It's very odd that I've been portrayed as the bad guy when I've been trying to look after the children as good as possible," he told ABC Radio Melbourne on Thursday.

The high-profile principal plans to fight the interim suspension.

When the outbreak emerged, Education Minister James Merlino described Mr Berryman's actions as "irresponsible" and said the Department of Health and Independent Schools Victoria were investigating the school.

Only children of permitted workers and vulnerable kids were allowed to attend schools in Melbourne at the time.

Prep to grade two students and those studying unit 3/4 VCE subjects were allowed to return to Melbourne classrooms on Wednesday as part of a staggered plan.

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