Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Friday that Arkansas High School Football teams can begin non-contact drills in helmets beginning Monday.

Additionally, Hutchinson announced the creation of a high school sports advisory group that will meet regularly to help the state move forward as teams prepare to move towards resuming contact sports this fall.

Hutchinson said he’s asked the Arkansas Activities Association to submit its plans to the Arkansas Department of Health in order to have football, volleyball, and cheerleading this fall. These plans will assist the Department of Health to develop guidelines as they prepare to begin fall sports.

Non-contact drills with helmets are permitted for football between August 3-7.

“My message for the football players for Monday is to grab your helmet and be ready for practice,” Hutchinson said. “Then, after practice, I want you to grab your mask so that you can protect others that you might be around.”

Hutchinson said communication from student-athletes and parents on the importance of sports in their lives influenced his decision to move forward.

“I hope that next week there’s zero positive cases among athletes in Arkansas,” Hutchinson said. “That might not be the case. We’re going to learn from the experience as we go along.”

Additionally, Arkansas Activities Association Executive Director Lance Taylor challenged coaches, parents, and athletes to help get the COVID numbers down to help ensure we have fall sports.