Governor Hutchinson creates advisory group to advise high school sports during pandemic

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FILE – In this Feb. 25, 2018 file photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at the National Governor Association 2018 winter meeting in Washington. Arkansas lawmakers have sent the governor legislation banning most abortions 18 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, a prohibition that could be the strictest in the country. The House on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, gave final approval by an 86-1 vote to the bill, which Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he supports. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

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.

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