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COVID-19 Important Updates

The safety and welfare of our girls is Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia’s top priority. We are hearing from our community, and many families and volunteers are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in our state. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. We will be adding frequently asked questions to this page as they arise. Please also see the letter below from Sue Else, CEO of Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia.

Check out Virtual Programs for fun Girl Scout activities to do at home! 

Need help explaining the situation to your children? Here's how to talk to your kids about coronavirus.

If you have questions, please email customercare@gshg.org or call 1-888-689-1912.

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Can our troop meet in person?

 All event participants must have a completed COVID Pre-Screen form before the event takes place.

For a printable version of In Person Meeting Guidelines, click HERE.

Many of us are anxious to get back to a more normal routine in Girl Scouts and the rest of our lives, and so we are considering face-to-face Girl Scout meetings and activities. When deciding whether to host an in-person meeting, consider the make-up and size of your troop or group, including attendees, their families, and their current comfort level with in-person activities. Our top priority is always keeping everyone safe throughout the Girl Scout experience. In-person activities or plans should take into consideration all families and members of the troop or group. 

Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia (GSHG) encourages individuals who may be more susceptible or at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 (including individuals age 65 and older or those with serious underlying health conditions) to carefully consider and weigh all risks when deciding whether participating through in-person meetings is appropriate at this time. Each family and volunteer must determine for themselves the risks of attending in-person troop or group meetings and decide when the time is right to participate. 

Virtual troop meetings and service area meetings are still strongly encouraged, and when in-person meetings are held, a virtual option should also be made available if possible.  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. Safety Activity Checkpoints for virtual meetings and the Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge should be followed to ensure the continued safety and well-being of girls and volunteers while meeting virtually.  Virtual meeting information can be found on gsLearn and GSHG staff members are available to assist with virtual meetings when needed.

Use these guidelines and reminders to help decide how and when to return to in-person troop and group activities.  

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.   

No set of guidelines can cover every troop or group meeting situation.  If you have a question about your meeting environment that is not covered in this document, please reach out to your Membership Support Manager for guidance. 

Communication

Social Distancing

  • Adults are responsible for monitoring social distancing.
  • No physical contact between non-related members is permitted.
  • Troops may meet provided social distancing guidelines of maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between non-related members is followed.
  • The current suggested maximum for in-person meetings is ten (10) people (eight (8) girls and two (2) unrelated adult volunteers). However, check your local restrictions for small gatherings. If more restrictive, follow the local restriction. Restrictions vary greatly from state to state, county to county, and even from town to town--and frequently change.
  • Larger troops may break into smaller groups, such as grade-level groups, patrols, or groups of girls with a particular badge they’d like to work on.  Each group can meet at the same time.  Girl/adult ratios must be followed in each individual group.  Girls in each group must remain static (girls do not move from one group to another during the meeting or from one week to the next). Adults could move from one group to another (mask must be worn).  Groups must stay 30 feet away from each other. Girl/adult ratio must meet the minimum standard for program grade level.
  • 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).  Note: Use culturally appropriate messages, materials, and resources.

Personal Safety, Health and Hygiene Practices

  • Face Coverings. Everyone must wear a mask or face covering.  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.
  • All participants must wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the meeting site, often during the meeting and just before leaving.
  • Meetings should include training of participants on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette.
  • Parents should ensure their child does not have a temperature or feel ill prior to coming to a troop meeting.  Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, has symptoms of COVID-19, or who has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 within the past 14 days should not attend troop meetings.  You can find up-to-date CDC guidance on returning to troop meetings after testing positive for COVID-19 here. Find guidance on isolation and self-quarantine after exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 here.

Meeting Location

  • At this time, we highly recommend in-person meetings take place outdoors. 
  • GSUSA strongly encourages no meetings in the home at this time because of the greater risk of exposure to other family members.
  • For meetings held in public areas, volunteers must ensure the space is clean and that high touch surfaces (tables, chairs) have been sanitized.
  • Consider keeping meetings short to limit the number of bathroom trips. Many public bathrooms, such as in parks, are not currently open.
  • Ensure there is at least 30 feet of distance between your troop/group and any other group that may be meeting in the area.
  • If meeting in the same space as another troop/group, the groups must remain static; no mixing of the people from the two troops/groups.
  • Girl Scout meetings may not be held in gyms or fitness centers.
  • If your group is meeting outside, there is no limit to the number of smaller groups (10 people or less) that may meet at one time, providing there is at least 30 feet of distance between each small group.
  • If your group is meeting inside, it is strongly recommended each small group (10 people or less) has its own room. If more than one small group meets in a large room, 30 feet of distance between each group must be maintained. In no event should there be more than 50 people in one room.

Mask Outdoors and for Water Activities

  • When outside in groups, masks should be worn. They may be removed for a "mask break" when participants are at least 6 feet apart.
  • Masks should NOT be worn when participating in water activities such as swimming, canoeing, paddle boarding, and other activities where falling into the water may happen (life jackets should continue to be worn per Safety Activity Checkpoints for activity). For these water-based activities, practice social distancing while engaging in the activity; maintain 6 or more feet of distance between people who are not in the same family group.

Fire Activities

  • Masks can be highly flammable, and therefore should not be worn when doing activities with or around fires and open flames. Social distancing should still be maintained around fires and flames. Girls younger than 4th grade (Juniors) should not participate in fire activities at this time unless they are with a parent or guardian who can safely, closely monitor them. All girls doing fire activities should be trained in fire safety precautions.

Meeting Space Safety and Cleanliness

  • Follow the resources developed by credible public health sources such as CDC or your local 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.
  • Handwashing supplies and/or hand sanitizer must be available and easily accessible. Cleaning and disinfecting supplies should be brought to each meeting.
  • Identify high touch areas of your meeting location such as door handles, toilet handles, faucets, tables, etc. Wipe down these surfaces prior to first use and after each person touches it.
  • Minimize the use of shared materials such as markers, crayons, scissors, etc. by having each girl bring her own box of identified items. This box can be brought to and from each meeting by the individual girl. If stored in one location, boxes should be wiped with a sanitizing wipe before being stored.
  • If there are shared items, sanitize after each individual uses the item.
  • 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. Keep First Aid/CPR skills up to date for any emergency.
  • For more information on readiness, see CDC Planning Tool for Events and Gatherings

Transportation

  •  When transporting girls for a meeting or outing, the driver and all passengers in each vehicle are limited to a single family/household.
  • Troop Volunteers should meet the girls at a designated drop off location where parents can drive up and drop-off/pick-up their Girl Scout.  This prevents group gatherings before or after meetings.
  • Parents dropping off girls should have face masks available in case they need to interact closely with a Troop Volunteer.

Food, Snacks, and Drinks

  • Each participant should bring her/his own filled water bottle. Large water coolers may be used for refilling individual water bottles at meetings and events. Practice safe surface touching protocol: consider having one person in charge of refilling water bottles from the cooler who is wearing gloves and a mask.  If individuals are allowed to refill their own water bottles, masks are required when filling, handwashing and/or hand sanitizing or gloves are required before filling, and hand washing and/or sanitizing supplies should be nearby. Water fountains remain off limits at this time.
  • If serving snacks, they should be prepackaged individual snacks, or have each participant bring her/his own snack.  Homemade foods and treats for sharing are not permitted at this time.  Do not share dishes or utensils.

Day Trips and Activities

  • Follow the same guidance as those listed here for Meeting Space Safety and Cleanliness.
  • Call ahead to the facility or vendor to confirm they are following CDC and state health department guidelines.

Overnight Trip and Travel

Troops (arranged in family groups), families and adult groups may spend the night at council properties and other Girl Scout approved troop trip locations if it is possible to do so in a safe, socially distanced way, outlined in the bullet points below. All usual troop readiness and preparation steps should be taken before any overnight trip is taken. As always, submit a Troop Trip Application before planning any overnight stays and follow guidance in Safety Activity Checkpoints You can find complete Troop Trip Guidelines HERE.

  • Sleeping locations are divided by family group. This means each family group or individual adult has their own tent, cabin, room, or section of a larger room that is at least 30 feet from others. These guidelines mean each girl is accompanied by an adult from her own family group. 
  • All other COVID guidelines should continue to be followed regarding mask wearing, handwashing, travel arrangements, and social distancing while meeting as a group.
  • If there are family adults attending with your troop/group who are not Girl Scout members, remember that you will need to purchase supplemental insurance or ask them to become members, so they will be covered by Girl Scout Activity and Accident insurance during the event.  The link to purchase the inexpensive supplemental insurance is HERE.  Also, remember that any adult who is not a GSHG approved volunteer (whether they are a member or not) may not be left alone with any child that is not his or her own family member.

If You or Someone in Your Girl Scout Troop or Group Tests Positive for COVID-19:

In the event of a COVID-19 positive test result, do NOT contact the parents or troop members.  Promptly complete an incident report (ASAP but no longer that 24 hours following the notification) and submit to Mary Hurst, Senior Director of Membership at mhurst@gshg.org.   Include the name of the person with the positive test result, any other people present in the meeting with that person, the date of the meeting, the name and address of the meeting site, and the site contact person and their phone number.  A council staff member and NOT volunteers, will then be responsible for:

  • Confirming and tracing the positive tester,
  • Contacting the parents of anyone who may have been exposed (or other volunteers),
  • Notifying a facility or homeowner where the troop has met, and
  • Alerting the state department of health

Council staff, NOT volunteers, will notify parents and others about a positive test result.  The tester’s identity is confidential. Remember that girl and volunteer health information is private and strictly confidential and should be only shared on a need to know basis with a council staff member.  Questions should be directed to Mary Hurst mhurst@gshg.org or 478-973-7651.

These guidelines will be adjusted and updated as additional recommendations and protocols are released. Our council leadership team continues to evaluate the current state of COVID-19 in each council region. We currently anticipate that these guidelines will remain in place until further notice.  We will evaluate the impacts of students returning to school before updating in-person meeting guidance.

What if our troop can't find a place to meet in person?

Some of you have shared that your meeting locations are limiting troop meeting size or not allowing troop meetings at this time. For that reason, council properties (to include most of our office buildings) are available for troop meetings at no cost. Reservations can be made by completing this form and returning to reservations@gshg.org.  

For your convenience and planning, the number of individuals who can safely meet (per GSHG COVID-19 In-Person Troop or Group Meeting Guidelines above) inside a building/room at each of our properties is available here. Please understand these measurements are based on people standing with 6 feet apart. Troop leaders will need to go to the meeting space in advance and plot out the layout for your troop to safely meet.

Outside meetings at Council properties are also an option and provide more space for larger troops. 

Can we meet virtually?

Stay tuned to our council website and social media for other virtual program opportunities developed by our Program team.

Get the virtual meeting playbook here to make the most of your virtual troop meetings and events!

While we cannot endorse or support specific online meeting tools for your use, see below for a list of free and low-cost tools that could be useful to you.

Video and Audio-Conferencing Tools with free versions 

While all of these options have a free version, please note you may be prompted to consider their upgraded versions for a subscription fee.

  • Zoom - FAQ
    Note: Meetings durations maximum of 40 minutes in free version
  • Skype - Support
    Note: Up to 10 participants free
  • Webex – Help Center
    Note: Limited file and content sharing in free version

Chat and Collaboration Tools with free versions

Additional low-cost tools for collaboration and conferencing to consider if the above options do not meet your group's needs.

What steps can girls and volunteers take to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Please remember that the best protection is self-protection and self-monitoring, especially in this flu season. Health officials recommend the following measures to minimize your risk of contracting any virus: 

  • Wash hands frequently especially after sneezing, shaking hands/bodily contact with another individual, and before eating. Use soap and water for 20 seconds or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. 
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick – health officials call this “social distancing” and recommend staying about three feet away from someone who is sick. 
  • You should stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. For all of the scenarios found here, even if you test negative for COVID-19 or feel healthy, you should stay home (quarantine) since symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like your phone or computer. 
  • Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing then throw the tissue in the trash, or as a last resort cough into the elbow 
  • Get plenty of sleep, good nutrition, stress-relief, and exercise – a healthy body is the best defense against illness. 
  • For the latest information, please consult the CDC website.
GSHG Fall Troop Camps/Events

All council fall troop camps will be changed to one day events, and event maximums are being reduced to comply with CDC and Georgia guidelines.  Girls will need to bring their lunches.  Adult numbers are being kept at a minimum so that as many girls as possible can participate.  Adults who are dropping girls off may choose to wait on the camp property in a designated waiting area where they are able to social distance from one another.

Cost per girl is $20.  Cost per adult is $5; registered adults will be expected to chaperone and help to guide girls in their assigned small groups for the entire day.  Troops who want to attend should only register one adult for every 8 girls (council staff and assigned volunteers will supply the other adults needed for safety ratios). 

The following events will be impacted:

Troop, Trails and Traditions at CMJ  scheduled for Sept 25-27th.  Now one day event on Sept 26th.

Halloween Town Troop Camp at Camp Low scheduled for Oct 2-4th. Now a one-day event on Oct 3rd.

Badge University at Camp Kirksey in Albany scheduled for Oct 16-18th. Now one day event on Oct 17th

Teen Leadership Conference or TLC  scheduled for Nov 6-8th .  Now a one-day VIRTUAL event Nov 7th.  Registration is $25 per girl which will include event speakers, activities, swag and t-shirt. 

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