May 6, 2020

Our  EL Education motto is “We are Crew, not Passengers.” For schools in the EL Education network, Crew is both a structure and a way of being.  To “be CREW” means to pitch in to help each other, to step up and take responsibility for everyone’s well being around you.  To “do Crew” means to build community with peers through shared rituals, classes, and convenings.

Thank you to all the families who took our recent survey. Though our families face many challenges, it seems that most of the families who responded are able to see their immediate housing and food needs are met. For many families, the greatest challenge continues to be meeting the educational needs of their students, accomplishing the goals set out by teachers, and keeping their students motivated to learn and connected to their teachers and peers. We at Palouse Prairie recognize the various challenges that our families face. Teachers are working  to support families, while striving to find the best distance learning practices to provide for the needs of students and meet the educational standards required by the state. The needs of one student or family may be very different from the needs of another student or family. Our teachers are learning, growing, and adapting while helping their students and families to do the same. We have implemented some shifts to support students better this past week by integrating structured CREW meetings with hopes of students feeling more connected with their classmates and teachers and ultimately being more motivated in their learning. We also recognize, given the challenges, it is simply not possible to meet all demands for all learning environments or accommodate the situation in every home. Because of this, PPCS understands the need for fluidity in expectations, and flexibility in our grading system. Teachers will continue to support students in their work. In lieu of using grades to assess mastery of content this semester, students in grades K-5 parents will receive a qualitative narrative describing the student’s strengths and struggles as a learner, and areas families can work on with their child over the summer to prepare for next year. In grades 6-8th, students will be given a Pass / No Grade designation for each class based on participation and effort. This grading and reporting shift will not impact students passing on to the next grade or taking more advanced courses in high school. In addition, students will not be leading student-led conference or passages.  Once we have our students back in our classrooms, we will assess all of the students’ academic content knowledge, examine how to support the transition and their social and emotional needs, and make plans accordingly.

We are seeing families demonstrate positivity, appreciation, support and a great deal of perseverance.  We will continue to work together as a school community to “be CREW and do CREW” over the next several months.  Not only are we seeing challenging impacts on our students, families and staff, we are also facing budget cuts both this year and next.  As a team, we will make sure every dollar we spend is in the best interest of our students. 

As we move forward through the rest of the year, we are working to maintain some of our traditions, rituals and convenings. Every year, usually on the last day of school, Palouse Prairie celebrates with Run the Palouse – a fun run for athletes of all ages. In the past, we’ve been able to be together for this run, but this year, to keep everyone safe, we will be running together… apart.  

Our Run the Palouse Virtual Marathon has something for everyone!  We hope that you, your family, and your friends will all sign up.  All proceeds of registration and t-shirt sales go directly to our school’s wonderful Adventure Program. Register on our website. See more information below. 

Please contact our office (  if the cost of the t-shirt is a hardship for your family, or if you would like to “pay it forward” and sponsor a t-shirt for a PPCS student in need.

Soft Closure:

 Palouse Prairie will also remain closed for the rest of the year based on the Governor’s Order of Reopening and in alignment with Moscow School District’s announcement of remaining closed for the rest of the year.

Parent Zoom Meeting: 

I will be hosting a parent zoom meeting for families next Wednesday, May 13th from 12 p.m.-1 p.m. This will be a space for connection. 


Final Word:

Here we are in our last month of school. Our staff want to  spotlight your grit and perseverance. We know this has not been easy and sometimes maybe feels impossible, but you’re doing it. You’re doing it and we see and admire you. Students, parents, siblings, families, and stakeholders, we want to show gratitude and encouragement for all the hard work you are doing. Each of us chose an EL design principle and wrote a message of inspiration to share with you all. Together, it is a message of hope and courage, compassion, and connection. From all of us to all of you! We are in this together. We are CREW!  Here is our message

April 20, 2019

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

—Haruki Murakami

I know we are all currently facing our own storms, but hopefully you feel as grateful as I do to have a strong CREW to share the burden. Now that we have settled into Distance Learning and have implemented the feedback from the parent Zoom meeting, I am wanting to “check in” with all our families to see how you are doing and what additional supports are needed. Please take this 2-5 minute brief survey so we know how we can support you through this storm for the rest of the year. I am eager to hear your responses.

Kindergarten Parent Survey 1st Grade Parent Survey 2nd Grade Parent Survey 3rd Grade Parent Survey 4th Grade Parent Survey 5th Grade Parent Survey 6th Grade Parent Survey 7th Grade Parent Survey 8th Grade Parent Survey

March 31, 2020

Dear PPCS Families,

This is a very unsettling time for all of us.  We know that each family is facing challenges. Over the course of the week, I have heard stories of individuals losing their jobs, families mourning the loss of friends in different states, neighbors supporting neighbors who aren’t making ends meet, and PPCS community families struggling to meet basic needs.  In most cases, parents are now having to stay home and work while also caring for, and supporting, the education of their children.  We are all navigating uncharted territory while doing our best to meet the demands of this situation. . 

Needless to say, as a school we are still finding our way to provide a strong EL education through distance learning while dealing with imperfect and glitchy technology and issues related to internet access and bandwidth.. We are focused on fixing the issues families are facing with technology and providing you the right materials to support your child at home. Thank you for being patient with us as we navigate new waters. Much is frustrating, scary, and uncertain right now, and we appreciate the compassion (one of our CREW traits!) and grace that families have offered to our staff and each other. 

We are here to support you.  We want to work together to meet your needs and the needs of your family as well as we possibly can..

Tomorrow (Wednesday, April 1) we are offering  Zoom meetings for both K-5 families (10:00-10:40 am) and Middle School families (10:45-11:30). I invite you to join me and other PPCS families in this Zoom Drop-in Session so we can check in with each other, support each other, and share what’s working for our school community.   Come with your questions and struggles. Come to offer support and solutions. My intention is to simply connect, see how everyone is doing, and provide opportunities for processing and sharing. I will be there to welcome you, provide whatever information I can, and create the space for conversation.

Join K-5 Zoom Meeting from 10:00-10:40:

Meeting ID: 100 334 585

Password: 008930

Join Middle School Family Zoom Meeting from 10:45-11:30:

Meeting ID: 606 932 020

Password: 080874

Come as you are!  No need to prepare, just open the invite link below, say hello, and connect with your PPCS community. 

We are CREW, and we are stronger together,

Jeneille Branen

March 27, 2020

Good Afternoon PPCS Families,

I hope everyone is staying happy and healthy.  This has been a challenging transition and while we love seeing how students are engaging in the learning at home, we are definitely mourning the loss of all the exciting things we do with our students in the spring.  We continue to stay focused on connecting with all of our students.  I also want to extend gratitude to all of you in your positive collaboration as we work through the kinks of Distance Learning.  

Here are a few important updates:

  • Yesterday, Moscow City Council extended the Public Health Emergency until May 5th, which means at this point, school will be closed at least until May 5th, 2020.
  • Families can pick up materials/packets created for students on Saturday, March 28th from 8:00 a.m.-12 p.m.   Teachers should have been in communication with you if you need to pick up materials.  If you are unsure if you need to pick up materials, please reach out to your child’s classroom teacher.  If you are uncomfortable picking them up for any reason, please let the office know and we will arrange for a different option. 
  • Tomorrow will be the last pick-up option as we move to fully on-line learning.  We will be following Moscow’s ordinance of no more than 10 people gathering and the CDC guidelines during distribution of materials.  Materials will be distributed outside the Multi-purpose room.  No more than 5 people can be in line at a time and must stand on a dot, which will be six feet apart.  If you see that the line has more than five people, please remain in your car until there is an opening in the line.  I appreciate your patience and understanding in efforts of getting what your child needs, which also keeping our community safe and healthy.
  • Since the distribution of Chromebooks, we have noticed some glitches. One of the issues is regarding our filtering system related to blogs or YouTube videos.  Our staff and volunteer Technology Guru, Gina Wilson, have been working hard to fix the issues that are emerging. We believe we have resolved the problem, however, the update can take up to 24 hours.  Please make sure to monitor the use of your child’s use of technology at home and abide by the technology agreement, “Technology is designed to be used as a tool to assist with the instructional objectives of the school.”  Please reach out if any other concerns emerge. We are here to support you all during this transition. 
  • Next week on Wednesday, April 1st from 10:00-11:00 am, I would like to offer a zoom meeting for families as a check-in.  I will send out a meeting invite along with an agenda early next week.

Jeneille Branen

March 24, 2020

Dear PPCS Families,

It was a profound day for me as a leader today.  I was able to see first hand the great lessons, videos and resources our teachers have planned in efforts of providing your children an education that best enables the work we do in the classroom.  I have so much gratitude for our staff!  It was a very proud leader moment.  On the flip side, as a staff, we are mourning the loss of many exciting things that occur during this time: daily connection with our CREWs, growing birds and fish, fieldwork, connecting in person with experts,  overnight trips, student led conferences and final products.  We will continue to work hard to provide our students the excitement for learning that is connected to our model. 

I want to share a few important updates:

  • If you discover you need a chromebook to support your child’s learning because you just realized that several of you need a device under these circumstances, please reach out.  We are happy to loan a chromebook to your student during this time.  We want all students supported.
  • Friday, March 27th, teachers will share the plans and lessons with families for the week of March 30th-April 3rd.
  • Families can pick up the materials/packets created for students on Saturday, March 28th from 8:00 a.m.-12 p.m.  
  • After Saturday, March 28th, we hope to move completely to a on-line option.  Our primary team (K-3) is working hard to develop a plan to provide a complete online way of providing materials/instruction. However some materials may need to be printed.  If possible, please print at home. Otherwise please contact our office and we will print and prepare those materials to be delivered or mailed. 
  • Yesterday, the Idaho State Board of Education recommended that all K-12 school remain in a “soft closure,” through April 20th. This means students will not be allowed on campus until April 21st  and Distance Learning will remain in place until then.  Our Board approved this recommendation last night.
  •  The Idaho State Board of Education voted to waive ISAT testing (3-8 standardized testing) for this school year. They are also in discussion in waiving the IRI (K-3 standardized testing) and we are waiting  for final approval. 
  • All school overnight trips are cancelled for the year. 
  • The Public Health Department just announced the first positive case of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) in an adult under the age of 60 in Nez Perce County.  At this time there are a number of actions you can take to limit the spread of this virus.  These actions include:

                     *Avoid non-essential travel if possible. *Stay home if you are sick.  *Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.  *Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.  *Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs using a disinfecting solution.  *Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.

I am grateful to our PPCS community.  Parents are offering gratitude, resources, supports in such a difficult time.  I appreciate your patience, feedback and support.  

March 23, 2020

Dear PPCS Families,

This morning our staff met virtually to connect and plan our next steps forward.  We shared ideas on how staff can provide a quality education while supporting students and families during this time. Thank you for taking the time to fill out the survey sent last week. We will use this information to ensure we are providing the resources necessary to conduct distant learning during this time. In addition, we know that this transition from onsite learning to distance learning will require a strong collaboration between families and teachers. Attached you find a document which outlines the expectations for Distance Learning for all staff, students and families. 

Here are important updates:

  • By 3:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 24th staff will share lesson plans with family for the week of March 25th-March 27th.  
  • Some teachers will have printed materials or resources for your child. The school will offer pick up from 3:30-6:00, Tuesday, March 24th.  If this time doesn’t work for you, please contact the office via email:  Please note we will implementing processes to allow support of social distancing and CDC recommended procedures to limit exposure to the virus. 
  • Friday, March 27th, teachers will share the plans and lessons with families for the week of March 30th-April 3rd.
  • Families can pick up the packets created for students on Saturday, March 28th from 8:00 a.m.-12 p.m.

Staff are social distancing and working remotely to keep our community healthy.  If you have any questions, please email the office,  or your classroom teacher. They will check messages daily and return them in a timely manner. And, please feel free to reach out to me at any time. 

We know that many of you are working from home and are facing your own challenges. We want to provide a quality education and also be mindful of our current situation. We will monitor and adjust as needed to support all students and families as we navigate this challenging situation. We appreciate your patience, flexibility and feedback. 


Jeneille Branen

March 21, 2020

Dear PPCS Families,
As you know, things are shifting quickly in our community and nationally. Our number one priority is the health and safety of our staff, students, families and communities both locally and globally.  Here are a few important updates:

  • Our staff will be meeting virtually on Monday to develop and implement Distant Learning plans to support all students. We will provide communication to families no later than Tuesday.
  • We are analyzing the results of the survey and will be reaching out to families on Monday and Tuesday to provide guidance and support. 
  • Starting on Tuesday, March 24, the Moscow School District Student Nutrition Program will be providing “grab and go” meals on weekdays for the duration of the school closure.  Any child age 1-18 will be able to get a free meal which will consist of lunch for that day and breakfast for the following day.  Meal packages can be picked up at the following schools and bus stops during the times noted:


Lena Whitmore Elementary School, 110 S. Blaine St., 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

West Park Elementary School, 510 Home St., 11:00 a.m. –  1:00 p.m. 

Bus Stops:

900 N. Almon, 11:00 – 11:15 a.m.

609 N. Almon, 11:17 – 11:32 a.m.

411 N. Almon, 11:34 – 11:49 a.m.

West A and Baker Sts. – 11:52 a.m. – 12:07 p.m.

Power and Nursery Sts., 11:00 – 11:15 a.m.

505 Indian Hills, 11:18 – 11:33 a.m.

Indian Hills and Atsirk Sts., 11:35 – 11:50 a.m.

Travois Way and Pine Cone Road, 11:52 a.m. – 12:07 p.m.

Viola Post Office, 1300 Main St., Viola, 11:08 – 11:23 a.m.

2280 Old Pullman Highway, 11:05 – 11:20 a.m.

421 West Sweet Ave, 11:28 – 11:43 a.m.

Taylor and Blake Sts., 11:48 a.m. – 12:03 p.m.

Please adhere to the latest guidelines for social distancing when arriving at the schools or bus stops to pick up meals.  There will be staff present at each site to guide the pick-up process.

This information and additional updates can be found at

I will continue to keep you informed as I learn new information.


Jeneille Branen

Dear Families,

I want to thank all the families and staff who have reached out to offer support to our school community during an unprecedented time and rapidly evolving situation.  Families have offered meal deliveries, delivery of materials, and deep cleaning. Our school’s guiding principle, “We are crew, not passengers, strengthened by acts of consequential service to others” impels all members of a school community to work together as a team, to pitch in, to help others.  I am always so proud to serve a community that operates under this motto. I know we are all thinking of the well-being and health of our families and the entire community.  

Every day, I am gaining new information so I will continue to keep you posted as our understanding of this situation grows and evolves.  Please read this full email, because it contains important information, including an essential survey that we need each family to complete. 

Our teachers are already thinking about how they can support your child in the weeks ahead while we are all off-site.  We will provide a tentative daily schedule for your child to follow, online curriculum and resources that are consistent with Palouse Prairie’s model of education.  To help us plan most effectively, I request that you fill out a survey FOR EACH CHILD who attends Palouse Prairie by Friday, March 20th.  This information will help us make sure that all families have the  support they need to set students up for successful learning over the coming weeks.  Students will be expected to focus on learning for a minimum of 4 hours daily.  

As you know, this is a fluid situation and we will do our best to keep all families updated.

Kindergarten Survey

First Grade Survey

Second Grade Survey

Third Grade Survey

Fourth Grade Survey

Fifth Grade Survey

Middle School Survey

During a series of press conferences at the Statehouse, Governor Little and Health and Welfare officials urged the public to remain calm and take several steps to help protect the spread of the virus, including washing hands regularly, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you are not feeling well. 

 In addition, current national guidelines emphasize “social distancing,” a key part of what experts argue is necessary to slow the illness’s spread and save lives.    This means to avoid gatherings in groups of more than 10 people, avoid discretionary travel, and avoid eating at restaurants, eating and drinking at bars, and public food courts.  More information about the coronavirus is available on the state’s website. For an excellent and accessible article about the impact of social distancing, read:  Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially and how to “flatten the curve.” from the Washington Post.


Jeneille Branen

March 13, 2020

Dear PPCS Families,

Today the Palouse Prairie School Board met to discuss the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and implications it may have for our school.  The Board decided that if Moscow School District closed due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Palouse Prairie would close too.   This afternoon I met Superintendent Bailey of the Moscow School District and leaders from Moscow Charter School, St. Mary’s Catholic School,Genesee, Troy, and Potlatch to join the discussion with our regional Health Department.  After consulting with the representatives from the Idaho Health Department and all local school leaders, it was determined that all Moscow schools, including PPCS, will close and provide alternative instruction for a period of two weeks following Spring Break.  

All school leaders are concerned about the health, safety and well-being of our students, families and community. It is our highest priority. To make this determination, we carefully considered how to best prevent and reduce the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19. Our School Board will meet on March 23 to discuss any further measures necessary to respond to the virus.

Over the last two days, our staff has met and started to develop plans to provide the highest level of instruction we can implement remotely. After spring break, on March 23rd-24th, PPCS teachers will take two staff planning days so that we can set up these alternative learning methods and communicate them appropriately to students and families.  Our distance-learning activities will begin for PPCS students on Wednesday, March 25, with off-campus learning provided by classroom teachers. You will receive a survey about your access to the Internet and availability of devices at home for learning purposes.  Your response to this survey will help us plan so that we can engage students as well as possible. Teachers will be in contact with families by March 24th to share more about their plans for alternative teaching and learning. 

In addition, we are collaborating with the MSD on ways to provide lunch for families that qualify for free and reduced lunches. We are also exploring ways we can provide a fair and equitable education for all students.  If you have specific needs or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me at any time. We think deeply about minimizing impact on our families and making learning accessible to all during this challenging time.  

Families, this is a time of rapid change and uncertainty as we learn more every hour and receive new and different advice. We are grateful for your patience and flexibility as we all adapt to the reality of our situation. We will continue to communicate as we learn more, and welcome your questions, insights, and ideas.  We are CREW! 


Jeneille Branen

Dear PPCS Families, 

I know that the spread of the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19,  is at the forefront of a lot of our thoughts and plans. I want to share an update on the approach the school is taking to minimize the impact and slow the spread of COVID-19.  

For those of you following the news, you know this pandemic is across most of the United States. Currently, there are no confirmed cases in the state of Idaho.  However, the spread of COVID-19 continues to grow. Current estimates suggest that symptoms usually appear within five days or less, but the range could be up to 14 days. Fortunately for the vast majority of people (and school aged individuals in particular) COVID-19 tends to be only a mild to moderate illness.  But for some people, especially those with underlying medical issues and elderly, it can be an extremely serious and dangerous disease. As such, we are taking steps to keep our child safe and as well as doing all we can to minimize the disease’s impact on our broader community. 

Over the last few days, state and federal authorities have held meetings to offer support to school districts in the planning to prevent the spread of COVID-19.   I have also been in discussions with other school leaders and tomorrow I will participate in a conference call with our regional Health Department and all the local Superintendents and administrators. In addition, our school Board is holding a special board meeting to discuss the topic and how we can best support students.  Lastly, Moscow School District just put out communication regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and potential plans for school closure if needed.   As I learn more from these meetings tomorrow, I will give families an update on what I have learned. 

In the meantime, minimize your chance of getting sick or spreading illness by doing the following:


Jeneille Branen

March 2, 2020

Dear Palouse Prairie Families,
Since the identification of the coronavirus, the Office of School Safety and Security, in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has been in touch with school administrators to keep them informed and offer guidance to schools and families. The 2019 novel coronavirus is believed to be spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to the way the flu and other respiratory viruses are spread. Symptoms can be fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. At this time, persons considered at risk are those with recent travel to China, or those in close contact with persons infected with the novel coronavirus. There are currently no cases in the State of Idaho and these health officials believe the risk to our school community is low at this time.  However, Genesee School District decided to close school today so that they can deep clean their facility. This is due to the fact that Jackson High School in Snohomish County Washington stayed at the Genesee High School’s gym over the weekend while attending the Jazz festival. Event organizers stress that the student in question did not attend the festival. In addition, festival organizers say there is no indication that any student at the festival had direct contact with the reportedly infected student and none of the students are exhibiting any signs of the illness.  Palouse Prairie Charter School did not host any schools for the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. 

Health officials are recommending local communities and schools take the same steps to protect against coronavirus as we take to prevent the spread of everyday illnesses like the common cold or influenza virus:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

As a reminder, students should be fever- (100+ degrees), vomit-, and/or diarrhea-free for at least 24 hours before returning to school.  When students complain of illness at school, office staff will assess the situation (take temperature, talk with child, offer child a quiet place to sit quietly, offer peppermint tea if applicable). If the child has a temperature or is complaining of stomach cramping, parents will be notified to pick up the child.

We will continue to stay informed from the public health district as this situation continues or changes and follow the suggested recommendations as stated in our policies. In addition, we are having additional cleaning performed in our building.

Below is some additional information about the coronavirus provided by the Office of School Safety and Security, in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare:

  • No cases of disease and or infection with novel coronavirus have been detected in Idaho to date. The first case in Idaho will be announced by public health officials after it has been confirmed.
  • When Idaho public health districts are notified of people who traveled from China, public health officials are contacting the travelers, conducting a risk assessment according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and implementing appropriate monitoring.
  • The risk of infection in the United States is considered low, but people who have close contact (e.g., household members and caregivers) with someone who has the disease caused by novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are at higher risk of becoming ill.
  • Currently, it appears that healthy children are not at high risk of severe illness from this virus.
  • Because there is no vaccine available or known effective treatment for COVID-19, prevention and control of this outbreak rely upon detection and isolation of ill people, and identification and monitoring of people who have come in close contact with people who have COVID-19.
  • Protect yourself against other respiratory diseases by getting your influenza vaccine – it’s not too late – and make sure you are up to date on vaccination against pertussis. Practice good hand hygiene, cover your coughs and sneezes, avoid sick people, and stay home if you are sick.
  • Seasonal human coronaviruses can cause respiratory disease; they are circulating and some people who get tested for a respiratory illness might have a positive coronavirus test result. This is not the same as this novel coronavirus.

Call your medical provider if you:

  • Have been in an affected area with apparent community spread within the past 14 days, and
  • Are concerned you might have been exposed, and
  • Have symptoms of fever or cough.

For the most up to date information, the Idaho State Department of Health and Welfare maintains a web page with current Idaho-specific COVID-19 information, as does the CDC for the entire nation:

Below is a resource provided by the National Association of School Psychologists on how to talk to your children about the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). In addition, I have shared a  few resources with teachers (the last two links) to support the conversations that may arise in classrooms.  Hopefully, this is helpful information to be able to communicate with your child at home.

Thank you for working with us in supporting our students to be healthy and safe,
Jeneille Branen


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