Concerned over the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County, Burbank Unified School District officials announced the suspension of all on-campus conditioning for the district’s high school athletes on Monday.
The county record for daily new coronavirus cases was broken for a second time this week with 7,854 reported cases on Thursday. The previous high (7,593) had been reported on Tuesday.
The student-athletes’ and coaches’ joy upon returning to campus for conditioning lasted only three weeks.
“There was a level of excitement on the campus with athletes coming back,” said Brian James, assistant principal of athletics and activities at Burbank High School. “I wasn’t part of the decision-making process. However, with the number of positive COVID cases increasing so dramatically, we just couldn’t continue. It wasn’t worth the risk for our kids and our staff.”
Steven Hubbell, Burroughs High School assistant principal of athletics and activities, said it was difficult to let coaches and players know of the district’s decision.
“It was super depressing,” he said. “I completely understood why they did it. I thought it was going to happen before Thanksgiving with the numbers rising so fast. Even though you know it’s going to happen and somewhat prepared for it, you’re never happy about it. I so badly want sports to happen, but I understand why the [county] public health department and district are doing what they’re doing.”
BUSD administrators and staff developed a plan to have high school athletes return to campus for light workouts and conditioning. They followed the county’s Reopening Protocol for Youth Sports Leagues and took extra steps to ensure the safety of students and coaches.
Players were separated into small cohorts and each sport has designated check-in stations, entrances and exits to prevent any possibility of groups running into each other.
District officials did not schedule a return date because of the fluidity of COVID-19.
“I wish I had a crystal ball,” Hubbell said. “I told my coaches, ‘I wish I could give you guys a date.’ We can only follow everything what L.A. County Department of Public Health and the state are telling us to do. It’s just tough.”