August 3, 2020

Please join PPCS Director, Jeneille Branen and members of the Board for a Community Conversation on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 7:00 pm.  Zoom information (for log or call-in) is included at the bottom of this notification.

The focus of this meeting is to learn more about your questions, concerns, and interests as we move forward into a remote start to our 2020-2021 school year. If you have a question you know you would like addressed, please send it to jbearman@palouseprairieschool.org  so that we can be best prepared.

Purpose – during this conversation we will:

  • Provide a forum to hear directly from PPCS Director and Board about Remote Yet Connected plans for Fall 2020,
  • Learn more about specific questions and concerns that you have, 
  • Maintain and build a spirit of CREW even in the midst of such unsettled and anxious times.

Group Agreements:

We recognize that these are hard conversations for everyone and anxiety and frustration are high. We would like to have the most constructive possible conversation in the spirit of CREW: Compassion, Respect, Engage, Welcoming 

  • Compassion: Remember that these are tough times, and many are struggling 
  • Respect:  Honor the humanity of each person present
  • Engage:  Speak from the “I,” representing your own experience and perspective
  • Welcoming:  Create a warm and welcoming space for members of our community 

Agenda (7:00 – 8:30 pm)

  1. Welcome 
  2. Overview:  What we know and what we still need to learn 
  3. Common Questions:  We will first address questions that have come up through the survey and via email. 
  4. Open Q&A / Discussion
  5. Wrap up and next steps

Zoom Information:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2728985259?pwd=eitIR0lFZnJxVlFzWmFWODVDNTBOZz09

Meeting ID: 272 898 5259

Passcode: bears

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        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)

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Meeting ID: 272 898 5259

Passcode: 440080
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kezPrkkWQ

Sincerely,
Jeneille Branen, Executive Director Jessica Bearman, Board Chair

July 31, 2020

Dear Families,
As our letter earlier this week let you know, Palouse Prairie will reopen school under a “Remote yet Connected” learning model to ensure the safety of our students, staff, and families while still providing a high-quality, rigorous education.

This is not how any of us envisioned the start of our school year — we would all prefer to be teaching and learning in the classroom — but we know that we are making the appropriate decision for our school community at this time when the community spread of Covid-19 is on the rise across our region.  We are committed to providing a remote learning experience this fall that truly reflects our EL model of education, with a focus on building strong student character alongside academic rigor. It will look different from the spring, when we had almost no time to plan. We are focusing our planning, time, and efforts to re-examine, and transform our learning model so that it feels like the rich and thoughtful educational experience that brought you to PPCS in the first place.

We care deeply about meeting the needs of all our students and we are committed to supporting our families and students during this global crisis. We are also grateful for your continued support and commitment to our school.  At the bottom of this letter you will find a more detailed re-opening plan.  It still has many unknowns, and we need to know more from your family about your plans, needs, and questions. Please complete this FAMILY SURVEY by August 4, 2020 to help us continue our planning process. 

Finally, we hope you have marked your calendar for a PPCS Community Conversation on August 4 at 7:00 pm.  We will be sending a Zoom link and an agenda for the conversation on Monday.  If you have additional questions or comments for the PPCS Board, please send them to Jessica at jbearman@palouseprairieschool.org.

Sincerely,
Jeneille Branen
Executive Director

Jessica Bearman
PPCS Board Chair

July 28, 2020

Dear Palouse Prairie Families —
I’m writing to you as PPCS’s new board chair.  Amy Ball, who has served the school for 7 years on the board and 5 years as chair, has ended her final term on the board. Luckily for us, she will continue contributing her energies to the school by way of the Parent Crew. I was elected last night, along with a wonderful slate of officers:  Lauren Crawford, Vice Chair; Zac Crist, Treasurer; and Juan Albaitero, Secretary. We are thrilled to serve the school with the rest of the dedicated and hard-working board.

Some of you may already have heard that last night, our board made an important decision about Palouse Prairie Fall operations.  Based on family and staff feedback, science related to the spread and impact of Covid-19, our school’s mission and philosophy, and our school’s capacity, we unanimously decided to begin the school year with a structure we are calling “Remote Yet Connected.”

In brief, this means that we will focus teachers’ efforts on designing and delivering the highest quality online education and supporting students. We will begin the year with most of our students learning remotely with outdoor meet-ups and activities as much as possible.  We will prioritize in-school space for safe, socially distanced in-person learning for small numbers of students, including:

  • Students who require in-person support for effective learning.
  • Students who need a safe space to be during the school day.
  • Our youngest learners. We are exploring ways to engage our kindergarten, first, and second grade students safely in-person. 

I know that you probably have questions and reactions in reading this brief overview. We will send you a more detailed description of the plan by Thursday night, along with a survey where you can share information about your concerns, plans, and needs. We will also seek feedback to learn more about your experience with distance learning last spring and your concerns and recommendations for this fall.

In addition, please mark your calendars now for a Community Conversation next week on Tuesday, August 4 at 7:00 pm. This will be an opportunity for questions and discussion with the Board of Directors and our school director, Jeneille Branen. 

The board will use the input we receive from families and staff to design and approve a more specific plan for this fall.  Our hope is that by August 10, we will have a final plan that allows families and teachers to do their best preparation for the start of school. We will post updates starting Friday, under a new Reopening Updates tab on our website: www.palouseprairieschool.org.

Because the importance of the situation requires us to move very rapidly, we would be grateful if you would save your input for the survey and Community Conversation, where we will be best equipped to receive it. As always, you can submit a public comment to the board for review any time via email:  jbearman@palouseprairieschool.org.

Thank you for your continued engagement and commitment to our school —

Warmly,
Jessica Bearman

July 17, 2020

Dear Palouse Prairie families and community,
This letter will update you about what we currently know and don’t know about fall 2020 re-opening plans. We do not yet have definitive answers, as the Covid-19 situation in Idaho and in our region is changing day by day. However, we know that you have big questions, and want to keep you as up-to-date as possible and to continue to seek your feedback.

The State Board of Education has released guidance for reopening schools that includes three risk categories, depending on the level of Covid in communities. Moscow School District is basing their developing plans on this guidance. At our Board meeting on Monday, June 13, the PPCS Board voted to align our plans as much as possible with the Moscow School District’s plans. This means that we agreed to adhere to the same broad risk categories from the State and subsequent closure decisions.

We believe that this alignment makes sense because of the high degree of interdependence and
overlap (including transportation, lunch services, and families) we have with the MSD, and our shared commitment to following guidelines from the Idaho State Department of Education and the CDC.

PPCS’ Board and leadership will be working to clarify our specific plans to fit Palouse Prairie’s particular circumstances with your input. We are thinking through safety measures and distance learning strategies that are consistent with our school’s size, teaching methodology, and wellness policies. We will share a draft by the end of July and will welcome questions and feedback in written and Community Conversation (town hall) format. Your input is welcome at any time via an email to the board: aball@palouseprairieschool.org

Our top priority is the well-being of our students, families, and staff. Please know that we are doing the best we can to address our community’s concerns and needs, and balance a huge amount of rapidly changing, complex, and sometimes contradictory information and perspectives. We need to hear from you! Over the next two months, we will be seeking your input and feedback regularly, and we will be grateful for your prompt and candid attention.

For starters, please contribute your perspective to this survey, seeking to understand your current thinking about whether and under what conditions your family would return to a classroom setting.

In the midst of so much uncertainty and turbulence, we remain grateful for the committed, engaged, and supportive PPCS CREW of students, families, teachers, staff, and community friends. We will get through this together.

Sincerely,
PPCS School Board
Jeneille Branen

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