A few photos that were meant to be nothing more than a memory for high school seniors to carry with them the rest of their lives turned out to something that the Burroughs baseball team has had to suffer consequences for.
The eight seniors in the photos were suspended from baseball practice for two weeks, while the entire team has not practiced this week.
“We were doing it to promote and be proud and honor our kids. It was definitely (done) after school hours. Everybody came separate. The kids didn’t high five, they didn’t hug, they didn’t hand shake. They kind of said hi how are you doing. They were actually very excited to see each other,” said Jo Dee Freck, who took the pictures and was one of the parents who organized the gathering. “We got them in place, they take their masks off. We make them smile because that’s what moms always want to see. We didn’t want photos in the yearbook with masks. They took them off, put them in their pockets.”
Freck, who has two sons in the Burroughs baseball program, said the entire gathering took no more than 15 to 20 minutes.
“If these pictures were selfies with hugs it would be completely different,” she said. “We took a few pictures. The kids put back on the masks and we left. The kids just did what their parents asked and that was it.”
Freck later posted the pictures on social media pages dedicated to the team.
She said after posting the pictures she was told to take down the photos from Burroughs baseball coach Matt Magallon.
Freck said she also spoke with Vice Principal Steven Hubbell.
“We didn’t do it to get anybody in trouble. I told him the coach didn’t know. It was just us moms wanting to get a senior picture of the kids,” Freck said.
Freck said nobody got sick as a result of the players taking the photos in close proximity to one another.
“They said as punishment the kids were going to have to do COVID awareness learning lesson in baseball. We thought it was done. This was the beginning of February,” she said.
But last week when it was announced that COVID-19 levels had dropped enough to allow sports to return, they were thrown another curve ball.
“We got word that they could start practicing on the first and they had a varsity mandatory meeting and the players had to include one parent,” she said. “That was when we were told that practicing is starting but the varsity cannot start. They are being suspended for two weeks because of the picture. That wasn’t just the seniors. They included the underclassmen and that wasn’t fair.”
The baseball team members not in the photo will be allowed to begin practicing on March 8.
Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Matt Hill addressed the situation in an email seeking comment.
“There were no suspensions. I 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 seniors involved in the picture will start on 3/15.”
While the players are not allowed to practice on school grounds, one of the parents in the program has worked out privately to help get the team ready for the upcoming season.