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Over the last several weeks, we have heard from many of you that what keeps you up at night is not knowing how you are going to manage continuing to do your job, educate and care for your kids this autumn. In essence, making work and life happen feels untenable. We recognize that these challenges have an outsized impact on single-parent families, families with multiple parents who are healthcare team members with constrained schedules and on our community members with the fewest resources of time and funds to put toward solutions.

In the coming weeks, several teams from within the UW School of Medicine, UW Medicine and the University will gather to develop recommendations and plans to address needed programs and services, policies and practices, and collaborations with community partners. We are also partnering with Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in this work. We acknowledge that as we move quickly this month, what we develop will be imperfect and we will need to iteratively improve it over time to meet the needs of our community. We approach this work through the lens of equity and with a focus on disproportionately impacted community members.

  • Programs and Services: We will look at multiple options to support community members through cooperative care and learning environments, while minimizing costs to families and risks of COVID-19 transmission.
  • Policies and Practices: All policies recommended by our taskforce will need to translate into clinical, research and lab settings. Major themes we will tackle include establishing maximum flexibility for caregivers and recommending guidelines for academic review during COVID-19.
  • Community Partners: We will advocate for solutions with school districts and other public systems at the city, county and state level.

Over the next ten days, we will focus on stakeholder engagement and community needs assessment.  Please be on the lookout for surveys distributed through central UW Human Resources asking for input.  We do not want to burden employees with additional surveys, but we do want to give you an opportunity to share your thoughts, concerns and recommendations with us in this phase. Please help inform this work with your feedback here. To stay informed on all that is happening to support parents, sign up for our new University parent listserv here.

The ripple effects of COVID-19 continue to create challenges for which we need to develop creative solutions. We don’t have the answers yet for how we can best support you and your families as you navigate caring for your kids who need day care, school-age kids who need learning support and oversight, and the aging adults in your families whose care has been disrupted. But, we will aim to cast the net of resources wide and help you find options that will work best for your family’s needs. We have gotten through challenges together before and it is by coming together that we will work through this one as well.


With gratitude,

Anne Browning, PhD
Assistant Dean for Well-Being, UW School of Medicine
Founding Director, UW Resilience Lab
Affiliate Assistant Professor, UW College of Education

Trish Kritek, MD, EdM
Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs
UW School of Medicine