Gov. Hutchinson allows AAA to proceed with fall sports calendar, NEA HS coaches react

Gov. Hutchinson allows AAA to proceed with fall sports calendar, NEA HS coaches react

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson provided an update Friday on the state of fall high school sports.

“The Arkansas Athletic Association has presented a schedule for football in terms of no-contact team drills with helmets. And that will be from August 3rd to August 7th. We want our student athletes in football to proceed with our no contact team drills with helmets throughout next week. I’m also asking the AAA to submit a plan to the Arkansas Department of Health to have football, volleyball, and cheerleading this fall. That will allow the ADH to review and develop guidelines for mitigating the virus risk associated with contact sports. I’m announcing that I’m establishing a HS sports advisory group to make recommendations to me and to assist the ADH on the best practices for protecting the student-athletes and school personnel. And to lead us to having a regular sports season this fall.”

This announcement also means that high school volleyball & cheerleading can begin practice on August 3rd. Monday marks the start of the high school golf season. Tennis begins on August 10th, Cheer/Dance competitions can start August 17th pending the AAA plan to ADH.

AAA Executive Director Lance Taylor was also in attendance for Friday’s COVID-19 briefing. They said in a statement: “After the Governor’s announcement today, we have been given the approval to proceed according to the 2020-2021 AAA calendar and handbook regarding practice and competition for all sports. We continue to expect compliance with all directives as issued by the Governor and Department of Health. More information related to the directives will be issued as soon as it is released.”

Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe will chair the High School Sports Advisory Group. Kelvin Gragg, superintendent of the Dumas School District, is vice chair.

The other members are:

  • Dr. Lowry Barnes, orthopedic surgeon and chairman of UAMS Department of Orthopedics.
  • Jacob Brown, Therapeutic Family Services.
  • Paul Calley, dean of students, assistant football coach, Southwest High School.
  • Jason Cates, athletic trainer at Cabot School District; chairman of the Arkansas Sports Medicine Committee.
  • Laura Crow, volleyball coach at Conway High School.
  • Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, state epidemiologist, Arkansas Department of Health.
  • Fitz Hill, State Board of Education.
  • Dr. Michael Israel, associate professor of Adolescent Medicine and Director of Sports Medicine at Arkansas Children’s.
  • Dr. Lee Johnson, state representative.
  • Janet McDonald, behavioral health professional at Pinnacle Point.
  • Lance Taylor, director of the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA).
  • Dr. Joel Tumlison, physician specialist, Arkansas Department of Health.

High school football, volleyball, basketball, & cheerleading have been working out since June 1st. That ADH directive called for workouts in small groups, physical distancing, temperature checks before entering facilities, and more.

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