An Auckland primary school has admitted it was wrong to tell four Filipino children to stay away from class amid coronavirus fears, despite the fact none of them had been to China or showed any signs of illness.
The children, from two different families, were told by the vice-principal of Papakura Normal School to "self-isolate" for 14 days after returning from the Philippines during the school holidays, NZME reports.
According to the mother of one of the children, Beth Botor, the vice-principal showed her a notice from the Philippine Airlines website saying travel between mainland China and New Zealand had been restricted.
Botor said she had not visited China and even a planned transit in Hong Kong had been rescheduled by their airline.
Despite being told by the family doctor the children were ok, Botor says the school insisted they self-quarantine.
To care for her children, she said she had to take sick leave from her job as a supermarket checkout operator.
The mother of the other children, Mary Jane Dumalaon, told NZME she received a phone call from the school on Monday asking her to pick up her children and self-quarantine.
"They are fine, they don't have a runny nose or anything, that's why I'm so frustrated about it," she said.
She also had to take sick leave from her job to look after the children.
The school's principal Derek Linington confirmed to Newshub the children had been asked to stay away from class but emphasised the school was acting with the very best intentions and "at the heart of our decisions have been the health of our students, staff and community".
"Like schools across the country, we are working very hard to deal appropriately and sensitively around the evolving response to the virus," Linington said.
"While we initially asked a family to self-isolate, based on our discussions with the Ministry of Education we have advised the family that they are able to return to school. We will continue to monitor advisories and act on Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education advice."