Asa Hutchinson

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson discusses the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic (Photo: KATV) Content Exchange

Arkansas is moving forward with plans to allow high school football and other amateur contact sports to resume in the fall.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the news Friday during his daily coronavirus briefing. Football teams will be allowed to hold no-contact drills with helmets beginning next week. Contact will be allowed to resume the week after that.

Hutchinson said he's asked the Arkansas Athletic Association (AAA), the governing body for high school sports in the state, to to submit plans so that volleyball and cheerleading can resume this fall, as well. After reviewing AAA plans, the Department of Health will determine how and when contact sports will begin "as safely as possible."

"My message for the football players for Monday, is to grab your helmet and be ready for practice." Hutchinson said. "And after practice, I want you to grab your mask, and help protect others you may be around."

Earlier this month, AAA announced it was prepared to start the fall season as planned. Hutchinson said on Friday he is establishing a high school sports advisory group to help assess the COVID-19 risks as school sports resume.

Some team sports including baseball, track, and swimming were allowed to resume in June with some restrictions. Collegiate athletes have returned to campus for individual workouts.

Arkansas logged 752 new virus cases and 11 new COVID-19 deaths on Friday, bringing the state’s death toll to 453 and the number of confirmed cases to 42,511.

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