LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – Governor Asa Hutchinson announced today during his daily COVID-19 press update an advisory group that will provide health guidelines and help advise schools on keeping fall sports as safe as possible this upcoming school year. Governor Hutchinson said he believes this is the best and safest way to conduct sports and activities this fall.

“The Department of Health will continue its responsibility to provide health guidelines, and this group of experts will serve in an advisory capacity to look specifically at how we can have fall sports in the safest manner possible,” Governor Hutchinson said. “We want to consider every angle to protect our athletes, cheerleaders, and band members.

“My message for the football players on Monday is to grab your helmet for practice and then after practice, grab a mask. Because our responsibility for safety extends beyond the practice field.”

The advisory group will be led by Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe, and Kelvin Gragg, superintendent of the Dumas School District, is vice-chair.

The other members of the High School Sports Advisory Group 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.