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Working Together to Keep Our GSGC Community Safe

This guidance is being provided as of March 22, 2021.  Girls Scouts of Gateway Council may modify this guidance as circumstances remain fluid in regard to COVID-19.

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 within the State of Florida and we will continue to update our guidelines accordlingly and remain consistent  across the council. Please continue to follow local and national directives and discuss these plans with your families.

GSGC offices

To protect the health and safety of our members and staff, GSGC staff has shifted to a virtual work environment, and the Jacksonville office is only available by appointment. Staff members will be available by phone and email during our regular business hours:

  • Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Girl Scout programs and events

In accordance with guidelines from the CDC, local and state governments and GSUSA, Girl Scouts of Gateway Council will allow up to 100% occupancy where social distancing of 6 feet in sleeping quarters can be maintained on our properties. Larger group gatherings over 50 are now permitted on and off GSGC properties while following all COVID-19 guidelines.

During our 2021 summer camp, masks are not required when groups are in their ‘household’ cohorts, however, if co-mingling with other household cohorts, masks will be needed when within 3-6 feet inside or within 3 feet while outside. Masks will NOT be used while sleeping or during boating activities.

GSGC implements COVID-19 safety practices whenever possible, such as encouraging outdoor activities, increasing hand washing and sanitation practices, socially distancing by 3-6 feet, wearing masks when social distancing cannot be achieved and increased cleaning/disinfecting of facilities.

Camp Kugelman is now open at full occupancy, 50 peopleIf two groups rent the property, they will need to remain in their household cohorts and/or wear masks when social distancing of 3-6 feet cannot be achieved.  This is in accordance with recent updates to Alabama's COVID-19 restrictions, listing Baldwin County is a green level risk.  

Fernandina Beach Little House is open and can hold up to 16 people overnight.  Troops must follow GSGC cleaning policies for this location to ensure the property remains compliant to all CDC guidelines in regard to cleaning, disinfecting and sharing resources. Additional details will be supplied upon reservation.

Camp Kateri remains open and will house up to 100% occupancy for each site based upon maintaining the 6 feet social-distancing sleeping guidelines. This is based upon the discretion of Gateway Council.

In accordance with CDC safety guidelines, GSGC implements social distancing practices when possible such as encouraging outdoor activities, mask wearing, increased hand washing and sanitation practices, socially distancing by 6 feet, not sharing resources/materials across group members and increased cleaning/disinfecting of facilities.

We have also created a new liability form to be filled out when attending activities on GSGC properties. You can also implement this for your troop activities, though it is not required. If you choose to do so, completed forms should be submitted to Customer Care.

As we work to return to our regular Girl Scout experience, GSGC has put in place the following guidelines for other in-person activities.

Troop meetings and Community events

Troop meetings, activities and community events are permitted and members are allowed to gather in larger groups. Please note, these meetings and events must still follow any facility requirements and be able to allow for social distancing.

While outdoor events are recommended, events that are both in and outdoors are permitted. Per CDC recommendations proper social distancing practices, sanitation and mask wearing continue to be implemented on property and within all Girl Scout troop activities. Indoor events will need to follow restrictions placed by the hosting facility and from the Safety Activity Checkpoints.

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 and events 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)? 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 or churches may not permit outside groups on premises, so always check and confirm ahead of time.

Troop meetings in the home: GSGC strongly suggests no meetings in the home 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.

Singing: If you normally close your meetings with a song, make certain girls and adults are all wearing masks. Singing and shouting both project germs farther than talking, ask your girls to either hum their closing song, or sing quietly, and always, of course, with their masks on.

Transportation: Individual parents drop off and pick up their own girls from meetings. Carpooling and public transportation should be avoided, where possible, to maintain social distancing.

Virtual meetings: Meeting 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. We recommend maintaining a virtual to in-person ratio of at least 20/80, which means to maintain virtual troop meetings at least 20 percent of the time to keep tech skills and virtual meeting habits fresh. To assist in the incorporation of virtual meetings, GSGC provides exclusive ZOOM access to troop leaders. Use the Safety Activity Checkpoints for Virtual Meetings to guide your meeting plans.

Day trips and activities

In conjunction with Safety Activity Checkpoints, follow the same guidance as troop meetings. 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.

Troop travel

In and out-of-state trips ARE permitted on and off Girl Scout properties with approval from GSGC and while continuing to follow established guidelines for troop activities. Trip applications are required for all Girl Scout trips and must be submitted to GSGC via our website at least two weeks prior the trip to gain approval. GSGC continues to monitor travel restrictions within and outside of the Gateway Council area and will approve trips based upon these restrictions. International travel is still on hold until further notice.

Property reservations

Reservations for GSGC properties continue.  Members may reserve space at Camp Kugelman, Camp Kateri and the Fernandina Beach Little House. 

  • COMING SOON: Fall and winter reservations will open soon!
  • Up to 100% occupancy is allowed when 6 feet social distancing can be achieved for overnight sleep arrangements.  This means tat each unit at Camp Kateri may vary on occupancy levels by site.
  • Camp Kugelman is now open to house 50 people for overnights
  • Fernandina Beach Little House continues to house up to 16 people overnight.

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 100.4 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).

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.

First Aid / CPR Training: Keep skills up-to-date for any emergency. For Gateway led certifications, these will be postponed until at least October 1 when council-sponsored programs resume. However, you may seek external training options in the meantime. Learn more here.

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 water

See 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 us for guidance on how best to handle these exceptional circumstances as they arise.

Restrooms: Be very careful in public restrooms. Most public restrooms will regulate the number of people using the restroom at the same time, depending on the size. If there is no regulator or signage, volunteers should ensure girls take appropriate turns to maintain social distancing and that they wear their masks in the restrooms. It is ideal to have automatic flushers and sensory faucets to wash hands. If these are not available, girls and adults should get in the habit of using tissue or paper towel to open doors and latches, touching as little as possible. If the restroom is large, have girls use every other stall and avoid using stalls with a person in the stall next to them at the same time. Restrooms and toilets are fraught with germs normally, and more so now considering the contagion of coronavirus.

Reporting and communicating a positive COVID 19 test: In the event of a COVID-19 positive test result, do NOT contact the parents or troop members.  Promptly contact your council in this situation.  A council staff member and NOT volunteers, will 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

Let other volunteers know that council staff, NOT volunteers, will notify parents and others about a positive test result and that 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.