Reading High School Sports and Extracurricular Activities are Reinstated by School Board

Posted on December 15, 2020 by

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The Reading School Board members have decided to reinstate district sports and extracurricular activities. 

It took a long time and a lot of convincing for it to happen, but, after voting and discussing, the board members decided to come to an agreement to make it happen and test it out. 

The Reading School Board voted 5-4 to revoke a 5 August resolution that suspended sports and extracurricular activities because of the pandemic.

 “I can’t believe I don’t hear a lot of people screaming in the streets where I live in celebration,’’ board president Costenbador-Jacobson said after the vote. 

Board members Costenbador-Jacobson, Becky Ellis, Anna Sheehan, and Ashley Jones voted against the measure. Sports and extracurricular activities can resume immediately. About 141 people watched the virtually held meeting. Board member Patricia Wright thanked the parents and students who spoke up for their sport at several board meetings in the past several months. 

“I’d like to thank everybody that heard me speak over and over again about how passionate I am,’’ Wright said. “Thank you to the administration for taking the time to dig deeper and coming up with solutions that were effective and safe’’ 

The school board had suspended extracurricular activities indefinitely in August due to the coronavirus outbreak. Immediately, several board members tried to overrun the measure. 

The board voted on 9 September and 18 November on a measure to allow the activities; however, it failed. Recently, the board voted to rescind the August resolution on 24 November but it failed by a 4-4 vote because board member Dr. Noahleen Betts dropped out of the virtual meeting for an unknown reason. Wednesday night, Wright, who has voted against the August resolution since the beginning, made a motion to rescind it once again. Constenbador-Jacobson made a motion to amend Wright’s and added six stipulations this time. 

The stipulations are as follows: Parental permission is required and a signoff including a waiver of liability; no spectators are allowed at any home event; all extracurricular activities move forward with each having a safety plan; masks must be worn by players or participants when not in specific competition (for example on the court, in the pool, or on the stage); participants from that level only remain on site for the competition and leave once it’s over; and, Middle School and junior high level activities do not begin until January.

Costenbador-Jacobson said the administration could implement these new guidelines almost immediately. Despite proposing the new guidelines, Costenbador-Jacobson still voted against her amended motion and said everyone needs to be realistic. 

“This hasn’t been a popularity vote; this has been a very demanding and sometimes very demeaning as a board member,’’ Costenbador-Jacobson said. “I’ve cried about it. I don’t like to deny children or students anything they want, but there has to be a reality.”

Ellis was equally concerned about allowing sports during the pandemic. She pointed out when the district voted to suspend activities in August, the total number of cases in Berks County was 19. Recent cases have accumulated several hundred per day.

 “It’s not just the students we have to worry about, ‘’ said Ellis. “We have to worry about the coaches, family, and friends, and voting ‘yes’ in any way, shape, or form is a potential death sentence… We can be as cautious as we want, but we are still in a pandemic. Sports should be our last priority at this moment.’’ 

Board member Dave Myers was appreciative of the steps being taken to bring back sports and extracurricular activities. 

“I think we need to minimize the risk; I think the amendment is excellent,” Myers said. 

Myers and Betts asked if student-athletes would be tested on a regular basis. Dr. Khalid N. Mumin, district superintendent, said the administration can discuss that, but he’s not aware of any school district currently doing routine testing. The only place that is happening is the NCAA and professional sports.

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