Department for Education figures show "wilful and repeated transgression of protective measures" was the reason behind 88 exclusions from schools in the area during the 2020-21 academic year.
Of these, 56 were in secondary schools, five in primary schools and 27 in special schools.
They were among 12,965 pupils in England send home for reasons including non-compliance with social distancing, causing distress such as by purposefully coughing near to others, or other deliberate breaches of a school's public health measures.
In Sunderland, there were a total of 2,185 exclusions – 2,151 temporary and 34 permanent - for all reasons last year, an increase on the 1,191 in 2019-20.
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Of the 16 possible reasons for exclusion, public health was the fifth most frequent.
The most common reasons were for persistent disruptive behaviour (42%), verbal abuse or threatening behaviour towards an adult (21%) and physical assault against a pupil (13%).
Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said schools worked very hard to keep pupils and staff safe during the pandemic, and it is not unreasonable that young people should be expected to comply with these measures.
The National Association of Head Teachers said schools following guidance were sometimes forced to suspend students in cases of persistent rule breaking and unsafe behaviour, with school leaders making tough decisions to keep everyone safe.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said permanent exclusions are a rare but necessary way of managing behaviour – but should not mean exclusion from education.