Photo/Illutration The Yamanobe town government office in Yamagata Prefecture (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

YAMANOBE, Yamagata Prefecture--A local board of education is apologizing after a homeroom teacher at a municipal elementary school moved the desks of students infected with the novel coronavirus outside of the classroom.

“The teacher didn’t mean to discriminate against them, but we apologize for the insensitive act,” said an official from the Yamanobe town education board on Sept. 28.

The classroom was closed from Sept. 12 to 14 after about 10 students tested positive for COVID-19, according to the official.

When the infected children returned to school on Sept. 21 for the first time since class resumed, they found their desks placed in the outside corridor, the official said.

Some parents and guardians of the students complained to the school that the teacher treated the infected children like "germs" because only their desks were moved outside the classroom.

When the board of education asked the school about the matter, a school official said the teacher was just trying to place the desks farther from each other as a precaution against the virus and had no intention of discriminating.

The school held a briefing session on Sept. 27 for the parents and guardians where it apologized to them, according to the education board official.