07-09-2020 Letters and Commentary

Update from Coloma Schools’ superintendent To Coloma Community Schools families and friends, As we adjust to the continuing changes affecting our entire community, I would like to thank the Tri-City Record for the opportunity to share updates regarding school news and ideas with the community moving forward. One issue many families and students are focused on this summer is preventing or minimizing summer learning loss, which many educational experts predict will be worse this year as a result of the COVID-19 school closure in early March. What is traditionally referred to as the “Summer Slide” is now being called the “COVID Slide.” Students across the country are expected to suffer more as a result of a lack of in-person learning over the last several months. For this reason, it is important to ensure students are actively engaged this summer through reading, utilizing credible online resources, and accessing other learning materials available to them throughout the summer. In Coloma, we are providing an online Summer School for our high school students and our K-5 students are participating in the Kids Read Now summer book program, which offers free books to students upon request. In addition, we have shared many online resources with our parents to assist in summer education engagement. We encourage families to visit our website and social media pages to find those resources. In the last few weeks, student-athletes have returned to school to begin conditioning workouts while observing social distancing guidelines. All athletes go through a health screening process before every workout and equipment is thoroughly disinfected after every use. Our coaches are following strict guidelines for participation, as outlined by the MHSAA, which can be found on our website alongside many other resources for returning athletes. It is our hope that regular sports programming will take place this fall, as we continue to focus on the health and safety of all student athletes. Finally, planning is underway for the 2020-21 school year, in partnership with other local districts. We are strategizing our return to face-to-face learning as we awaited specific guidelines, which Governor Gretchen Whitmer released on June 30. We will review and analyze the Governor’s guidelines against our own efforts to-date in order to finalize a return to school plan that promotes a high level of student achievement and a safe and healthy environment for our staff and students. We are also working on a robust remote learning plan to have available should face-to-face learning be suspended at some point during the 2020-21 school year. In the meantime, I encourage all students and families to continue to engage in learning over the summer. Stay safe and healthy. Dave Ehlers, Superintendent Coloma Community Schools

UV Safety Month reminds us to be smart about sun exposure Spending time in Michigan’s great outdoors during the summer is a rite of passage and a great family tradition. Taking care to protect ourselves and loved ones from the damaging effects of ultraviolet sunrays should also be a part of that tradition. July is designated as Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month, with a goal of spreading the word about the importance of protecting ourselves and our loved ones. Though spending time in the sun is enjoyable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UV rays can damage skin in as little as 15 minutes. Most directly, overexposure leads to bad sunburn, which is itself unhealthy — but worse is the fact that most skin cancers come as a result of exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

The American Cancer Society says basal cell and squamous cell cancers are the most common types of skin cancer and are found on sun-exposed parts of the body typically related to lifetime sun exposure. Melanoma is a less common but more serious form of skin cancer also related to sun exposure. Sun spots and wrinkles are also known symptoms of sun overexposure. To help defend against UV rays, the best and most effective way is to avoid sun exposure altogether. Obviously, that is not entirely possible, but there are ways to mitigate exposure. This includes staying in the shade whenever possible; wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and clothing that shields skin, such as hats, long-sleeved shirts and pants or skirts; and routinely applying a broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor 15 or higher rating. Make no mistake: Spending time outdoors in the sun is fun and has its own health benefits, including providing us with a natural source of vitamin D, which is known to potentially be lacking in people living in northern climates like ours. The problem is overexposure, and that is what UV Safety Month is all about. A little precaution before going outside can prevent a big problem later on. Be sure to do your part and protect yourselves and your loved ones before going out to have fun in the sun. As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-6960 or emailing senklasata@senate.michigan.gov.