School out of touch on contact ban for students, parents say

Children at Mount Martha Primary School flout a new rule banning contact between pupils.A MORNINGTON Peninsula primary school’s snap ban on pupils hugging or giving each other high-fives has attracted disbelief from parents, who yesterday called the move ”outrageous” and ”unbelievable”.

Parents at Mount Martha Primary School claim they were informed of the new rule, which extended a ban on contact sports to a ban on any physical contact at all between students, only when children arrived home from school on Wednesday.

They say the rule was first announced to pupils over the public address system, and students were left to tell their parents.

A group of year 6 students were so disgusted by the new rule that they staged a sit-down protest on the school oval at lunch on Wednesday before they were moved to the school gym and given a dressing down, parents say.

One parent, Tracey, said her son was winded on the playground on Wednesday and, when his friend tried to console him by putting his arm around his shoulder, the friend was told his actions were against the rules.

The friend then had to walk around with the teacher on playground duty for the rest of lunch as punishment, Tracey told radio 3AW.

”I’m just a bit outraged that it has come to this. There must be other ways,” Tracey said.

Another parent, John, said his children were told they could not high-five each other.

”I have a couple of children and they have been told that if they high-five one another that’s instant detention, and if they do it three times they will be expelled,” John said.

”I mean, what are they actually trying to teach?”

One child was reportedly told that if students wanted to high-five, it would have to be an ”air high-five”.

Principal Judy Beckworth said it was ”not actually a policy, it’s a practice that we’ve adopted in the short term as a no-contact games week”.

She said the new practice was introduced after students suffered a number of injuries on the playground in recent weeks, and the new no-touching rule would last one week.

”In response to an increased number of recent student injuries, including a broken collarbone, wrists and concussion, we decided to have a ‘no contact games week’ at our school,” Ms Beckworth said.

”We are very serious about student safety and that’s why we decided to do this.”

Ms Beckworth said when the children were told of the new rule, some of them asked about high-fiving to clarify the rule.

”We spoke about it being contact, but of course that’s something that children really would find that would be acceptable, and I will be talking to my staff about that, chatting with them about trying to get the message across,” Ms Beckworth said.

Ms Beckworth said the protesting year 6 students were removed from the oval because they had overstayed their allotted time.

She said parents would be told of the new rule in this week’s school newsletter.

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