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Utah school district apologizes after yearbook photos edited to add masks to students' faces

Mask year book
Posted at 9:52 AM, May 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-31 12:52:28-04

NORTH OGDEN, Utah — The Weber School District has apologized after it says the students who put together the school's yearbook edited a handful of photos, leaving some parents and students frustrated and upset.

Ninth-grader Kylie Eldridge said she got her North Ogden Junior High yearbook on Thursday. While leafing through it on Friday afternoon, she couldn't help but notice something odd.

"One of my friends pointed out that there were masks covered over the people who didn’t have them on," she said.

One page features a group of students during gym class. Over some of the students' faces, a thick mark that resembled a mask was drawn over their mouth and nose.

"Their masks are pulled down beneath their chin," Kylie said.

The students' mouths and faces are barely legible under the marking.

The Weber School District said about a dozen photos appeared to have been edited. In some of the photos, Kylie pointed out, it looked like more than one student or teacher has drawings on their faces.

"Some are done really well, and some are done really bad," said Eldridge's mom, Becca Hair.

They wondered who did all the editing, who approved it — and why.

"I just don’t see the need to alter children’s faces and put on a fake mask," Hair said.

In a statement, the Weber School District said it thinks a well-meaning student or group of students edited the photos on their own, without any teachers or administrators realizing it when they looked at the proofs before printing.

"The proofs are typically in black and white, and administrators are usually focused on looking for inappropriate content," the statement read. "We apologize to the students who may have had their photographs altered, and how this slipped past us during the review process."

"It wasn’t caught, and that’s kind of frustrating," Hair said.

While Hair is frustrated that someone took the liberty to make changes without anyone noticing, Kylie said she's disappointed. The edited photos will always stick out to her as she looks back on her last year of junior high school.

"It was a really rough year, and the fact that we got through it — I think we should see the truth," she said. "And we don’t get to."

This story was originally published by Lauren Steinbrecher on Scripps station KSTU in Salt Lake City.