WELLSBORO — High school sports practices will reopen Monday, Jan. 11, despite a desire of some board members to begin this week.

The board voted 6-3 in December to not have extra-curricular activities when the district is in remote learning periods due to COVID-19. At the Jan. 5 work session and special meeting, director Linda West asked the board to reconsider.

The request came after Superintendent Brenda Freeman said the county has seen a decline in transmission rates from a high of 23% to now just above 11%. Wellsboro and other county districts have returned or are planning to return to in-person learning on Monday.

West said students are playing in pick-up games without masking or mitigation. If practices reopen in school, she said, then at least the board would know students are following guidelines.

Tracy Doughtie, who voted with the majority in December, said her position has changed after observing a large number of families not following guidelines. Students, she said, are finding a way to play and it is “not a good thing.”

“We left it up to parents to do the right thing and, generally speaking, some families are doing the right thing and just as many are not,” Doughtie said.

West, Chris Gastrock and Matt Feil said their position is unchanged and they continue to support having extra-curricular activities during remote learning periods.

Gastrock said the situation has changed in the month since the first vote, and a different response may be appropriate now.

However, the remaining five board members said their opinion is also unchanged.

Sue Judlin, Wayne Hackett, Lee Stocks, Dave Messineo and John Hoover said they still think extra-curricular activities should not be held when schools are closed due to COVID-19.

“If we are saying school is unsafe to be in, then so are extra-curriculars,” Judlin said. “They are closer together; there’s going to be more risk of spread.”

Both Judlin and Doughtie said they would never vote to go to a remote learning model again unless it is unavoidable.

“It’s such a tough call because we know kids are going and finding a way and we can do it safer,” Doughtie said.

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