04-30-2020 Coloma schools making plans to have graduations; Governor relaxes COVID-19; Deer Forest n

WATERVLIET STRONG… is the message Watervliet Public Workers put in lights on the ballfield fences at Hays Park. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the community will get through it and the ballfields will once again be filled with happy players and families. That’s a prayer and hope by all. (Contributed photo)

Coloma schools making plans to have graduations; has tenative dates

By Annette Christie

Coloma Community Schools Superintendent Dave Ehlers is hopeful that the district will be able to celebrate the Class of 2020, however, the date that they might be able to do that is still unknown.

Ehlers said on Tuesday that letters went out to all the parents of seniors to lay out some proposed dates for graduation activities. Currently the date planned for graduation is May 29 and while they have not cancelled that date, Ehlers admitted it’s not likely. One of the challenges with other dates is that the facilities will be under construction starting on June 15.

All schools in Michigan were closed down effective March 13, 2020, to try and lessen the spread of COVID-19. A follow up executive order by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer canceled school and all activities for the remainder of the year.

Executive Order 2020-35 stated that “all in-person instruction for pupils in kindergarten through grade 12 is suspended for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year and school buildings used for the provision of K-12 education must remain closed for the purpose of providing K-12 education in person for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, unless restrictions on public gatherings and use of school buildings are lifted before the end of the 2019-2020 school year. K-12 school sports activities and other in-person extracurricular school activities are suspended while any state of emergency or state of disaster prompted by COVID-19 is in effect”.

There are still many unknowns with regard to standard year-end events that students would participate in such as award ceremonies, National Honor Society induction, class photos, etc. Ehlers and school administrators continue to work on ideas for how it can all be done to give the students, especially seniors, the attention, credit, and recognition that they deserve. “We keep thinking of ways to keep the kids engaged and knowing that they are missed and not forgotten,” Ehlers said.

The district did purchase yard signs, for all the seniors, that are being personally delivered by the high school principal Mike Churchill.

With the Governor now extending the Stay Home, Stay Safe order through May 15, 2020, it is possible the district will have to wait and see what she does in order for them to make final plans.

Governor relaxes COVID-19 restrictions; begins plan to let businesses re-open in stages

By Jon Bisnett Governor Gretchen Whitmer responded to both a continued softening of the COVID-19 curve and pressure from the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association membership by relaxing some restrictions in her Executive Order dated Friday, April 24. The Governor has now extended the Stay at Home order through May 15, adding a strong recommendation that individuals wear a face mask in all enclosed public spaces. Businesses must also provide masks to workers.

Whitmer says, “Data shows that most Michiganders are doing their part by staying home and staying safe. That’s good, but we must keep it up. Social distancing is our best weapon to defeat this enemy,” Whitmer said. “With new COVID-19 cases leveling off, however, we are lifting some of the restrictions put in place in the previous order. I want to be crystal clear: the overarching message today is still the same. We must all do our part by staying home and staying safe as much as possible.” The Governor opened up some segments of business and recreation by removing the ban on motorized boating, reopening golf courses, and allowing landscapers to go back to work. Construction workers have not been approved to go back to work, causing further controversy over what many call over reach and inconsistency of policy. Golfers may walk, but not ride in carts. Garden Centers may reopen, retail stores may open areas previously sanctioned such as paint supplies, but must perform curbside delivery. Retailers previously deemed non-essential may open, but again must operate curbside only. Amid the lowest gas