A California public high school suspended its entire baseball team over a picture of the team’s players not wearing masks.
— SGV High School Sports (@SGVNSCORES) March 2, 2021
A photo of John Burroughs High School’s eight senior baseball players was posted on the baseball team’s Facebook page.
Burbank Unified School District officials saw the picture online and decided to punish the boys for violating COVID-19 safety protocols by not wearing masks in the picture, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
Officials suspended the entire varsity baseball team from organized practice and condition drills for one week, and suspended the eight seniors featured in the picture for two weeks.
The suspension will delay a return to baseball for the players, who already lost an entire season last year after California halted all school athletics last March.
“The district and board members decided, or they tried to cancel the whole varsity season as a result of the pictures,” senior Rory Freck said. “But our athletic director and coach fought for us, and they compromised on a two-week suspension instead.”
Superintendent Matt Hill called the picture a “health order violation” while defending the district’s decision to punish the boys.
In addition to the lack of masks, he noted that there was no social distancing and a “mixing of families,” according to a statement.
“I have decided to delay the return of athletic conditioning for the JBHS baseball team by one week so that the team can review health guidelines and safety protocols,” Hill said. “I look forward to the team beginning conditioning on Monday, safely.”
The parents of the players slammed Hill and the other school district officials for overstepping their authority.
“For Matt Hill to discipline a team of players based on an individual offense, separate from any team activity, is unprecedented and an egregious abuse of the district’s power in order to prove a point,” said Brian Nichols, whose son was in the photo.
“For a district that claims to care about the mental health of its students, this decision is in direct opposition of that claim,” he added.