SUSSEX, N.B. -- The apparent threat from the coronavirus is dividing one Maritime community after more than two dozen students from the Sussex, N.B., area just returned home from a trip to Italy.

As a precaution, they have been told by the Department of Education to stay at home for two weeks.

It's a move supported by New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.

"To have a 14-day isolation, it is important for us to recognize that we don't know quite where the virus is going to go in New Brunswick right now," said Higgs.

But in Sussex, the community is split.

"Keep them at home, keep them doctored up, and watch them and make darn sure that they don't have it -- for their sake and for other's sake," said resident Ed Obermaier.

Another Sussex resident, Brittany Holland, said: "It would be pretty devastating, you know, to come home and then have everybody mad at you for going and then not being allowed to continue your education for those two weeks."

"I think it's a good idea for them to stay home for two weeks, but I don't think they should have gone to Italy to begin with," said Eveliniah Tedford.

Melissa Dewinter doesn't agree with the decision.

"I think it's ridiculous because there were lots of kids that were away on the March break and have gone through international airports and were in other countries," she said. "So, I think they've singled this group out for some reason and I think it's over the top."

From his shop in Sussex, Matt Tays is trying to keep things in perspective.

"I can see both sides of it," he said. "I can see why they'd want to go. It's the trip of a lifetime for a lot of these kids, but I can also see why people would want them to stay home for a couple of weeks."

Opinions are so divided in Sussex that civic leaders say they are getting a hostile response just for expressing sympathy for the students.

"I have received a lot of harsh, harsh criticism from people around the province driven by hysteria," said Mayor Marc Thorne.

Meanwhile, the province is asking anyone who travelled outside Canada -- no matter where -- during the March break to self-monitor for symptoms for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days.