More than 100 pupils have been missing school a day as cold-related illnesses plague multiple schools around Auckland.

At one school, at least 130 students and staff stayed at home to ensure they weren't spreading any sickness to others.

The most recent newsletter from Kaurilands School states at least 100 children had been away for two weeks straight in early June, prompting principal Jo Augustine to write that they were all looking forward to a rest.

Stephen Lethbridge, principal of Point Chevalier School and president of the Auckland Primary Principals' Association, told the Herald at one point he had up to 130 pupils and teachers off sick.

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The school roll is currently 650.

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Even he himself had fallen victim to a cold.

However, Lethbridge said most of the sickness would be parents heeding the Ministry of Health advice to stay at home if they felt ill.

The number of flu-like cases being reported is well below where it has been the same time the past 2 years, according to Flutracker data. Image / Flutracker
The number of flu-like cases being reported is well below where it has been the same time the past 2 years, according to Flutracker data. Image / Flutracker

"Anecdotally in the channels that we connect with we've noticed that there are more kids away at the moment but that's not surprising given the message around staying at home if you're unwell and if you've got sniffles or a runny nose, it's not surprising at all.

"From our perspective, we had over 100 a day on one day and a number of our staff have been away as well. I had three days of last week as well ... at one point we might have got to 130.

"It's just a cold, one of those viruses that are going around, but not related to covid-19."

He said advice had always been to keep children home if they were poorly, but the advice had been taken more seriously since the pandemic kicked in.

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"Definitely we would be encouraging all parents to follow their school's advice if you are sick, stay home and that always has been the case, even pre Covid-19.

"But I think with the whole pandemic it's just highlighted the importance of making sure that you're taking time away and not infecting anyone with whatever illness you have."

He expected staff to stay away, too, but that brought "other complications" with it.

"That brings other complications in trying to find relievers ... but a number of schools across Auckland are experiencing lots of kids being away but they're away for the right reasons."

Asked whether it could be the "new normal", Lethbridge said "it possibly could be".

"It's going to be a fair while until we get back to pre Covid-19 thinking. It could be years before you might come to work with a sniffle."

While sickness was spreading around the City of Sails, the level of illness compared to same time last year was dramatically lower than usual.

According to the Government's latest flu statistics for the week ending June 21, those aged less than 5 years made up the majority of patients, followed by those aged between 5 and 17 years.

The majority - 74.3 per cent - of the 55,000 cases were from the North Island.

Marcus Freke, principal of Hamilton's Endeavour School and president of the Waikato Principals' Association, said while there he wasn't aware of such dramatic bouts of sickness south of the Bombays, there had been several pupils from his school off sick recently.

"We haven't had a mass exodus of kids or anything, we've just had a few kids away with colds and things. We're sitting around 93.7 per cent so that's not too bad for this time of the year.

Marcus Freke, principal of Endeavour School in Hamilton, is president of the Waikato Principals' Association. Photo / Supplied
Marcus Freke, principal of Endeavour School in Hamilton, is president of the Waikato Principals' Association. Photo / Supplied

"Interestingly, we're actually slightly up on term 1. I think parents are quite glad to get their kids back to school."

But he believed the longer than usual school term - 12 weeks - had taken its toll on kids.

"When you have a 12-week term, kids' resilience goes down.

"This is the first time for me and many of my colleagues to have done 12 weeks in a row because the 10 week system has been in since the early 90s. I just think the kids are hitting the wall and they're a lot less resilient around sniffles."

The absences showed parents were taking their obligations around illness seriously, while employers appeared to have become more flexible with employees having proven their efficiency at being able to work from home, he said.

"Parents are really taking that requirement, if there's any signs of illness to keep them at home, seriously and I'm wondering, speculating only, that employers are a little bit more understanding in the current climate and that systems are now working from home and are embedded and having a day with the kids doesn't cost them a day's leave.

"I think that whole flexibility that was developed around lockdown and working from home, if kids have got a sniffle parents are in a much better position to work from home.

"It's great for parents because leave is a precious thing and having bosses that are able to say don't take it as leave, take it as a day working from home. Everyone's a winner."

Auckland and Wellington appear to be hotspots for cases of colds and flu the past week. Image / Flutracker
Auckland and Wellington appear to be hotspots for cases of colds and flu the past week. Image / Flutracker
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