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COVID-19 Updates from PEPS

[July 6, 2021]

Support and connection are vital for new parents and their newborns during a time that researchers know to be an already isolating period. We know that when we strengthen our connection with one another, we are healthier, more resilient, and more fulfilled. Hundreds of new families are currently participating in PEPS programming virtually each week, finding a community to learn, reflect, and connect with during this critical time. While we look forward to a time when families can come together once again in person, based on careful consideration of data and guidance from the State of Washington and King County Public Healthall PEPS programs will continue to meet online for the entirety of the sessions throughout 2021.


The Health and Safety of our Community

The introduction and efficacy of vaccinations changes the landscape around the severity of COVID-19 cases. We recognize that not everyone is willing or able to get vaccinated and there are no vaccines available for newborns and infants at this time. PEPS is centering decisions on group meetings around the health and safety of babies, parents, and our group facilitators and we are hearing from families clearly that this is top of mind.

Looking Forward

As of June 30, 2021, the State of Washington is removing most COVID-19 restrictions. This news brings us a step closer to being able to bring families together in person again. We will be using the new information from the Safe Reopening guidelines, along with guidance from King County Public Health and other advisors to plan our path forward.

We want to be clear that for now, as we make these plans, all PEPS programming will continue to be held virtually. We believe offering online-only programming at this time is the most equitable approach to providing clarity, consistency, and cohesion for group participants and facilitators who have signed up for virtual PEPS Groups.

There are multiple things we are taking into consideration as we develop our organizational policies and practices moving forward: science, rapidly changing guidance, the unique logistics of our programs which include babies, and our values of Equity, Inclusion and Community.

We have heard from some parents that they would like to meet in person. At this time, we encourage families who are comfortable getting together in person to do so outside of their formal PEPS meetings.

We will share more about our plans to re-introduce in-person groups on this page and through direct communication with registrants and participants once we establish that approach in more detail.

FINDING SUPPORT AND CONNECTION

We acknowledge that not meeting in-person may be disappointing and might differ from the expectations you had and the experience of your friends, neighbors, or coworkers who have participated in PEPS under previous circumstances. We truly believe in the benefits of in-person connection, and while facilitating groups in a virtual setting has its challenges, our staff and Group Leaders have been collaborating, learning, and adapting to provide the best experience possible. We are so grateful for the flexibility and creativity parents and group facilitators have shown during this unprecedented time.

As a reminder, all PEPS Groups will be conducted remotely for the entirety of their sessions through 2021We ask that families only meet online during their scheduled meeting times. We recognize that the state and local guidance around meeting in person may change, and that different families have varying levels of risk tolerance.

PEPS encourages families to find safe ways to continue social interaction outside of their scheduled group sessions, in adherence to public health mandates. Visit our Keep Your Group Together page to find ideas on how to maintain a connection with other families once your PEPS Group meetings have ended.

Thank you for being part of our community,

The PEPS Team

Resources:


Coronavirus is not specific to any race, nationality, or ethnicity. Misinformation about coronavirus can create fear and hostility that hurts people and makes it harder to keep everyone healthy. We are stronger as a community when we stand together against discrimination. Take advantage of these resources to prevent, interrupt, and respond to stigma.

"I am so thankful that we can still hold PEPS classes despite not meeting in person. The PEPS staff has been incredibly supportive, and the training provided helped me develop the skills I needed to facilitate on Zoom. I've learned about group chats, sharing documents and most importantly how to keep the same nonjudgmental and supportive environment our parents deserve. 

For the group, it feels like we are meeting in person as the sharing is real and gritty and the overwhelming support they give each other is so heartwarming! Now more than ever these parents need community and these meetings provide just that."

- Connie H., PEPS Group Leader

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