COVID-19 Information
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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 while official activities are suspended! 

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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What is GSHG doing in response to COVID-19?
  • All camps are closed until June 1, 2020. We will issue refunds to all individuals and groups scheduled to attend programs and events through this date.
  • All in-person council-sponsored girl and volunteer programs, trainings and events are cancelled through June 30, 2020. We will issue refunds to all individuals and groups scheduled to attend programs, trainings and events through this date.
  • No trips will be approved through June 30, 2020.
  • Council offices will be open on June 1. To adhere to social distancing rules, staff will be in the offices on a rotating basis. Please contact Customer Care or the staff member by phone or email.
  • Our customer care line is open! You may still contact us with questions or concerns during regular office hours at customercare@gshg.org or  1-888-689-1912.
  • All in-person troop meetings, service area events and other volunteer-led programs are cancelled through June 30, 2020.
Can our troop meet in person?

COUNCIL UPDATE REGARDING TROOP AND SERVICE AREA MEETINGS:

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

·       Provide these guidelines to all participants, volunteers, and the caregivers/guardians of all girl participants before the in-person meeting takes place.

·       Before attending, all volunteers must read these two (2) sets of guidelines on appropriate cleaning and disinfection and hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.

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 suggests 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.

Meeting Space Safety and Cleanliness

·       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.

·       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.  Water fountains should remain off limits.

·       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

·       Per GSUSA, overnight trips are not currently permitted.  This guideline will be reviewed once Georgia is successfully past Phase 3 of its re-opening process.  As always, submit a Troop Trip Application before planning any overnight stays and follow guidance in Safety Activity Checkpoints

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 a 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 at 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.

From GSUSA:
As a national Movement, we must prioritize the health and safety of all girls and speak with one voice in doing so. At GSUSA, we stand in partnership with councils across the country that are making difficult decisions to protect all girls and families. We, as a Movement, are committing our collective resources to support all families during these stressful times. 

Can we meet virtually?

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

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. 
  • 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.

Click the link below for the previous letter from the CEO!

ceoletter