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COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus that spreads easily in the community. Take all reasonable precautions to limit potential exposure for girls, volunteers, and families.The COVID-19 pandemic continues to change as infection rates rise and fall in different areas. There may be regional differences or developments since this guidance was published. Continue to follow local and national directives. Discuss plans with families.All troop leaders and service unit managers are required to submit this acknowledgment prior to resuming in-person meetings and activities.These guidelines are in effect until further notice.Meeting Spaces:- Outdoor spaces where social distancing can be maintained are strongly recommended for meetings. Get advance permission from the property owner or the jurisdiction that provides the location.- For meetings held at public facilities, contact the facility ahead of time and ask:• Is the space cleaned, and touch surfaces (i.e., tabletops, light switches, chairs, etc.) sanitized, at least daily?• Who else uses the space (how often, what size is the group, when)? Is the space cleaned between groups?• What type of faucets/soap dispensers are available in the restroom (sensory or manual)?Then, consider whether you can supplement any practices that are less ideal. For example, if you will arrive after another user group, plan to bring sanitizing wipes to get the space ready for your troop. Another example: if faucets are manual, take some time to show girls how to shut them off with a paper towel. Use paper towels for doorknobs whenever possible.- Meetings may not be held in fitness centers or gyms, where a greater risk for contracting the virus may exist. Schools, churches and other organizations may not permit outside groups on premises, so always check and confirm ahead of time. If you need help locating a new, safe, meeting space for your troop, check with your Service Unit Team and/or Member Support Specialist.- GSUSA strongly suggests no meetings in the home (personal residences) out of concern that there would be greater risk of exposure to other family members. The recommendation is to stay away from in-home meetings for the time being, but this option is allowed under GSWCF.
Troop Meeting Size:- Troops and groups of individuals can meet in groups up to 50 participantsprovided they practice social distancing by maintaining a 6-foot distance from anyone they don’t live with, and wear a mask indoors or when social distancing is difficult.
All troops should monitor and, refer to the GSWCF Blog for the most up to date status. Restrictions vary greatly from state to state, county to county, and even from town to town--and frequently change. The maximum meeting size is 50 people. However, check your local restrictions for small gatherings. If more restrictive, follow the local restriction.
- If you have a large troop that would exceed 50 girls and adults, stay connected while you wait for a safe time for everyone to gather. Large troops are wonderful, so stay together! Some ideas include hosting virtual troop meetings or gather up in smaller groups such as grade-level groups, patrols, or groups of girls with a particular badge they’d like to work on.
Meeting in Homes:
When considering homes as troop meeting locations, it does not have to be the Troop Leaders home, however it should be the most appropriate home within the troop based on the required guidelines.
Each volunteer hosting meetings in their home must have a Residential Meeting Agreement on file and follow all safety ratios and requirements for leading a troop within Safety Activity Checkpoints. For all other adults and children who may be in the home during the troop meeting, they must be located away from the troop and not have direct access to the girls unless they are registered and background screened members.
It is further recommended that all Troop Helpers who will be hosting troop meetings or leading activities complete the "Let's Be Girl-Led" webinar to equip them for working with the troop. Meeting in a residence is considered the primary meeting location and does not require a first aid/CPR trained adult. This is true even if meeting in more than one residence to accommodate group size. When meeting in public spaces such as parks, libraries, etc if not listed officially as the troop meeting location it would be not considered the troops primary meeting location and would fall within the description for troop field trips requiring one first/aid CPR certified adult.
The safest way to transport girls to and from meetings is for individualguardians to drop off and pick up their own girls from meetings, avoiding carpooling or publictransportation in order to maintain social distancing.However, if the troop decides to carpool here are some recommended guidelines: Girls and adults should wear masks when inside of a motor vehicle Keep car window opened, at least slightly, to circulate fresh air. Routinely disinfect the car handles, seats and any touchable surfaces Wash hands before and after the trip Consider the personal situation of your girls: Do they live with an immune compromised person that they can put at risk? If so, perhaps make other accommodations for her with her parents. Have the families been isolating, and free from contagion? If so, the troop may essentially be a safe bubble.*Remember, sustained contact within less than six (6) feet for longer than ten (10) minutes within an enclosed area creates high risk for virus transmission, so be very careful with carpool decisions.
Virtual MeetingsMeeting options may need to be flexible based on the fluid nature of COVID- 19 risk. Troops that are able to run online meetings as needed (or wanted) should do so. GSUSA recommends maintaining a virtual to in-person ratio of at least 20/80, which means to maintain virtual troop meetings at least 20% of the time to keep tech skills and virtual meeting habits fresh. Use the Safety Activity Checkpoints for Virtual Meetings, to guide your meeting plans.
Troop Day Trips and Activities/Outings:In conjunction with Safety Activity Checkpoints, follow the same guidance as Troop Meetings and Hygiene and COVID-19 Risk Mitigation guidance in this document. Call ahead to the facility or vendor to confirm that they are following CDC and state health department guidelines. If activity or sporting equipment is being provided, ask the provider if they wipe down equipment in between uses, similar to equipment at the gym. Make whatever appropriate accommodations that are necessary. For example, bring extra sanitizer if none will be provided for public use at the activity location.Follow the same recommendations on Troop Meeting Size for gatherings or activities open to the entire family, for “Invite-A-Friend” events, etc.
Travel and overnight stay:Overnight trips are not permitted until after the home state is successfully past Phase 3 of its re-opening process. The timeframes will vary from state to state and even from county to county in some cases. As always, contact your council for prior approval before planning any overnight stays and follow guidance in Safety Activity Checkpoints.
Hygiene and COVID-19 Risk Mitigation. Follow the resources developed by credible public health sources such as CDC or your local public health department. Share these with girls and volunteers and ensure that they are practiced during meetings and activities. Place signs in the meeting or activity space to remind girls and volunteers to engage in everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Signs should include:• Stay home if you are sick.• Cough and sneeze into a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, and wash or sanitize your hands.• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Wash hands if you do touch.• Volunteers, girls and parents should be reminded to make sure temperatures are taken prior to group interaction to confirm the individual is not running a fever and temperature is a normal 98.6 degrees. Members with fever or temperature higher than 98.6 should skip the in-person gathering until their temperature is normal.
Personal contact:Hugs, handshakes, “high-fives,” and even activities like the friendship circle or squeeze can transmit COVID-19 from person to person. Refrain from these gestures for the time being. Create a safe way for girls and volunteers to greet and end meetings instead (like tapping elbows).
Disinfectants and Disinfecting:Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched (i.e., table tops, markers, scissors, etc.). Use a household cleaner, or see the EPA’s list of effective cleaners approved for use against COVID-19. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
Household bleach is effective against COVID-19 for up to 24 hours when properly diluted. Check that the bleach is not expired and determine if it can be used on a given surface. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
To prepare a bleach solution, mix:• 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or• 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of waterSee the CDC’s website for more on cleaning and disinfecting community facilities.
Face Coverings:Volunteers should remind girls that Girl Scouts wear face coverings (masks) not only to protect themselves but to protect others. Face coverings are a civic responsibility and a sign of caring for the community. Girls can bring their own face coverings. Have disposable masks on hand for those who need them. Volunteers can teach girls how to handle their face coverings so that the coverings are effective. Some girls or volunteers may not be able to wear masks, due to medical conditions such as asthma. Contact your council for guidance on how best to handle these exceptional circumstances as they arise.
Monitoring and Preparing:- Please refer directly to your state and county public health departments for the most up-to-date information and guidance.- Communicate with families about when their girls should stay home. Anyone who is sick or had close contact with a person with COVID-19 in the last 14 days should stay home.- Volunteers, girls and families should be reminded to make sure temperatures are taken prior to group interaction to confirm the individual is not running a fever and temperature is a normal 98.6 degrees. Members with fever or temperature higher than 98.6 should skip the in-person gathering until their temperature is normal.
Reporting and communicating a positive COVID 19 test:In the event of a positive COVID-19 test result within your troop, notify the troop parents/caregivers and others who may have been exposed. I understand girl and volunteer health information is confidential and will not share the identify of the person. I am not to share this information with anyone outside of those exposed.Remember that girl and volunteer health information is private and strictly confidential and should be only shared on a need to know basis with those who may have been exposed.
First Aid Supplies:Troop first aid supplies should include COVID-19 prevention items including hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol), tissues, disposable facemasks, and disinfectants. Trash baskets or bags should be supplied for meeting and activity spaces, if not already available. Make sure that the trash baskets (or bags) are easily accessible for girls. Disposable or no-contact thermometers may be added to supplies if available and not cost-prohibitive, however, parents should be checking temperatures and allowing their girl(s) to join group activities only when temperatures are normal.