Western Australia Principal Stood Down Over Virus Letter

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
April 30, 2020Updated: April 30, 2020

A Western Australian school principal has been stood down after she wrote to parents asking them to keep their children home if possible amid COVID-19 concerns.

Halls Head College principal Bronwyn White sent the letter last week, calling for only the children of essential workers or those unable to stay at home to attend school for the first week of term two, which started on April 29.

She cited concerns about cleaning supplies and the ability to apply physical distancing requirements, reportedly saying only year 11 and 12 students should return for weeks two and three.

After Prime Minister Scott Morrison said social distancing rules did not apply to classrooms, Ms White issued a retraction.

The initial letter was against Department of Education advice although parents have the option of keeping their children home for the first three weeks of the term.

The department confirmed Alen Kursar was the school’s acting principal, but director-general Lisa Rodgers said it would be inappropriate to comment on any matter relating to an individual’s employment.

Western Australian Secondary School Executives Association president Armando Giglia told ABC radio the department was going through the usual processes.

“Bureaucracy is bureaucracy,” Giglia said on Thursday.

“She had the best interests of the students at heart – nobody denies that.”

Premier Mark McGowan said he wouldn’t second-guess the department’s decision-making.

An online petition calling on McGowan to intervene and have White reinstated has been signed by about 2000 people.