By Amanda Singer
As more and more people are getting vaccinated (yay, science) and things have mainly opened back up again in California and started to return more to normal, we’ve been getting more questions about whether we’re doing in-person mediations. Hence, we wanted to share some information with you about our thought process and plan for moving forward. The short answer is yes.
We are offering in-person mediations now, with certain limitations, and continuing to offer all mediation services online. This month, we have started providing some availability to see clients in person now that our entire office has been vaccinated and the county has reached over 75% vaccination rate. Additionally, our Mediation Coordinator, Sophia, continues to be in the office full time, so clients can always drop off paperwork, checks, etc., in the office as necessary.
As of June 15th, the state and county have provided new guidance for individuals on masks. Masks are not required for fully vaccinated individuals except in specific settings (we do not fall under any of those). Masks are required for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses (we fall under this).
We had waited to open our office back up for a few reasons. First and foremost was that until our office was entirely vaccinated, I placed their safety and the safety of those going to be around them as of the utmost importance. I didn’t want anyone who works for me or comes into my business to get sick, so we were continuing to do everything we can to minimize that risk. Additionally, until the mask mandate was lifted for vaccinated individuals, if we had opened back up to in-person mediations, anyone visiting our office and the mediator would have been required to wear a mask for the duration of their mediation even if they were able to sit 6 feet apart from each other because we’re inside and unfortunately didn’t have a big or private enough or outdoor space to set up mediations.
While we understand that being in person can certainly have its benefit, we felt strongly that many of those come from being able to see a person’s face and read their facial and body language. Now we understand that you may feel that those things get lost online because you can’t see the other’s full body. Still, we also believe that meeting in person and only being able to see someone’s eyes would take a lot away from the mediation because you’d be missing all the facial expressions and things you can see when you’re online.
Personally, I would much prefer to meet with my clients online and see all of them than meet in person with masks on. Now I know that many people spend their whole days in masks (children included) and do a wonderful job with it, but little things like not drinking water or eating snacks during the mediation can cause discomfort. Not to think about emotions that come up and crying/having a runny nose in a mask did not sound comfortable for any of our clients.
So, we waited until the county and state reopened and removed the mask mandate for vaccinated individuals. If you are interested in meeting in person, please mention that to our Mediation Coordinator when you call or to your mediator. Currently, our office is open for in-person mediations, however on a limited availability as we are still not having multiple mediations going on at the same time in the office. Each of our mediators is only in the office on specific days each week.
This means that it may take longer to meet with a mediator in person than it would online, and we will always continue to provide all services online. If all parties are fully vaccinated, then you will not be required to wear a mask in our offices. However, if you or your spouse are not yet fully vaccinated, masks will be required for your visit. Personally, as someone who still has underlying health issues of concern, at this time, I will only be meeting with individuals who are fully vaccinated. However, other mediators in the office are open to masked mediations if you are unvaccinated.
We will be continuing to offer our free consultations only online. However, if you are interested in meeting in person will have an option for a paid hour consultation which you can discuss with Sophia. Additionally, we will be scheduling the preliminary planning sessions (PPS) all online as well. We are also able to offer a hybrid of in-person and
If you have questions about online mediation or looking for more information about starting a mediation online or in-person, contact us. Call (858) 736-2411 or fill out our online contact form.