Student sports and on-campus activities suspended amid virus surge


Jackson Spenner

BHS’s junior varsity football team sprints during a conditioning practice on Dec. 2.

Jackson Spenner, Staff Reporter

It’s difficult to pretend that playing high school sports in 2020 is remotely as exciting as it once was. The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered an indefinite wave of shutdowns, closures and laggy, awkward virtual training sessions into the athletic world. Luckily, throughout the fall semester, Burlingame’s Athletic Department has been able to offer conditioning practices for the majority of fall and winter sports teams. 


However, with San Mateo County’s entrance into the purple tier on Nov. 30, the Athletic Department decided to halt all conditioning practices for the remainder of the semester. 


“We were supposed to go ahead and finish this week,” John Philipopoulos, Burlingame’s athletic director and varsity football coach, said. “[Next] Thursday was going to be our last day, but because of a surge in cases, pending stay-at-home orders and finals we decided to cut it short a week early.”


These district-wide rollbacks affect more than just sports at Burlingame, also shuttering all on-campus learning opportunities through December, including student pods and learning groups . Without a change in the current public health situation, at-home learning and independent study will continue to be the sole education options for students. 


“Now, the only time students come to campus is to pick up materials,” principal Paul Belzer said. “[We allow for contact] if their computer breaks, or they need a book, but there is nobody reporting to campus.” 


Teachers are still allowed to come to school in-person, as they are designated as essential workers by the state. Currently, about 10-15 staff members teach from the school daily. However, Belzer acknowledged that if San Mateo county moves to a shelter-in-place, like much of the Bay Area already has, the school would have to reconsider their options. 


For sports, Philipopoulos anticipates a return to normal conditioning practices after the winter break, beginning Jan. 11. 


“The only thing that’s really going to stop us is the health guidelines,” Philipopoulos said. “We actually were allowed to go ahead and practice conditioning in the purple tier. We called it a week early because of the pending stay-at-home order.”


A full season, on the other hand, is less conceivable in the current climate. Philipopoulos imagines that resuming matches with other schools would require significant change in restrictions and guidelines, most of which haven’t been updated recently. 


“Right now, we’re just kind of in a holding pattern, kind of waiting for the official guidelines to come down from Gov. Newsom and the state of California,” Philipopoulos said. “Once those guidelines are officially released, that’ll give us more information and hopefully a pathway for some level of return to play.”