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California: High school baseball team suspended because 8 seniors took a yearbook photo without masks

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The school district said they violated COVID-19 safety protocols, so the whole team was punished

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A varsity baseball team at a California high school was suspended after pictures of the team's seniors were posted on social media. They were suspended because they were not wearing masks in the photo.

Eight senior baseball players at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, California, took a picture in January as part of a nearly 20-year tradition for varsity seniors to take a group photo for the yearbook.

The photo was organized by the boys' moms and was posted on social media.

According to KABC-TV, Burbank Unified School District officials saw the picture and decided to punish the students for violating COVID-19 safety protocols by not wearing masks and not social distancing.

The entire varsity baseball team was suspended from organized practice and conditioning drills, and all eight seniors on the team were suspended for two weeks.

One of the seniors on the team claims that the school board wanted to cancel the whole varsity season but received pushback from the school baseball coach.

"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."

In an email to the Los Angeles Daily News , school district superintendent Matt Hill explained his decision: "We had a group of players and families dress up in uniform and take pictures on campus in violation of health orders (no masks, no social distancing, and mixing of families). They then posted the picture on a JBHS baseball social media site. No player or family from the team notified the coach, school, or district of this health order violation."

He added, "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. I look forward to the team beginning conditioning on Monday, safely."

Rory's mother, who took the photos, said, "I'm very disappointed that our kids are being punished for something that the moms arranged. And I understand that there are COVID protocols, but the boys were just trying to make us happy."

Other parents expressed outrage with the school district's decision.

""It's an egregious abuse of power," Brian Nichols, whose son was among those suspended from the team but was not involved with taking the picture, said.

Other players who spoke to KABC-TV said they just want to move past the controversy and play ball.

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