Alert level 2 restrictions are "really challenging" and in some cases "unmanageable" for schools to abide by, a Tauranga principal says.
The response came after speculation that up to 1000 spectators watched a rugby game between Hamilton Boys' High School and Tauranga Boys' College at the Hamilton school's grounds on Thursday.
Under alert level 2, gatherings were restricted to a maximum of 100 people. This included weddings, funerals and sports games.
However, Hamilton Boys' High principal Susan Hassall says the game had run seven minutes beyond scheduled time, extending into the school's lunch hour, and no more than 300 students wandered over to watch.
Under Ministry of Education rules, schools do not fall under the category of a gathering and are classified as their own cluster.
Tauranga Boys' College principal Robert Mangan said he was "sympathetic" towards Hassall as he would have acted the same in that situation.
"It's a school of more than 2000 boys ... there is no way you can stop them from coming over."
He was confident that there was "no mingling" between his students and the Hamilton Boys' students who were not on the rugby pitch.
He said as a principal, it was "really challenging" and "unmanageable" to keep students at a one-metre distance from one another in the playground.
Hamilton Boys' High School had a full ban on outside spectators for sport matches as it made contact tracing impossible, Hassall said.
"We are doing everything we can to ensure that our school community is kept safe, going beyond what is expected to do this."
Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield addressed the situation in yesterday's daily media briefing, saying under alert level 2 a crowd of 1000 people would not be allowed to attend and that was "quite clear".
He said he knew from "personal experience" that for most college sport, no spectators were allowed at this time.
Mangan said some of the alert level 2 rules were difficult to "meaningfully enforce" in his own cluster of 2160, but school staff strove to do the best they could.
Some of the requirements of alert level 2 placed principals in a tricky position and they often had to make "unpopular decisions", he said.
This included banning external spectators from any school sports event.
He knew two principals around the country who had hired security guards to manage their gates and prevent external parties entering.
The school had a Super 8 tournament coming up in a few weeks with other schools, and he would not have a problem if students from the school his students were playing at watched a game, he said.
This was because team lists made it simple to contract trace and his students would remain isolated from people who were not directly playing the sport, he said.
"You just have to look at the practicality of the rules when judging a school."
Ministry of Education deputy secretary of sector enablement and support, Katrina Casey, said: "We know that the school [Hamilton Boys' High] leadership is well aware of the requirements of alert level 2 and has put those public health requirements into practice and is making sure the requirements are being followed. "
She said school leaders ran a controlled environment with safety and wellbeing at the forefront, meaning contact tracing could take place.
It was "not always practical" to have physical restrictions in place so hygiene was the priority, she said.
"Rules for gatherings do apply in schools should there be external visitors on-site such as parents and caregivers, who would be limited to no more than 100 able to attend."