Working Together to Keep Our GSGC Community Safe
This guidance is being provided as of August 2021. Girls Scouts of Gateway Council’s number one priority is the safety and well-being of our members and the families and communities we serve. We may modify this guidance as circumstances continue to remain fluid regarding COVID-19. 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 Girls Scouts of Gateway Council will be consistent across the council with the most stringent restrictions. Continue to follow local and national directives and discuss these plans with your families.
In addition, troop leaders should always consider the comfort level of their girls and families when making decisions related to troop meetings, activities, and trips. Consider the following:
· Survey families for their comfort level of in person activities.
· Regularly check and follow real-time local and national safety directives to make sure you are compliant with local regulations.
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
As we continue our regular Girl Scout experience, GSGC has put in place the following guidelines for other in-person activities:
· Gateway Council allows both in person and virtual events, programs and camping experiences.
· Gateway Council will continue to strongly encourage masks when indoors and unable to socially distance and encourage outdoor meetings when possible.
· Gateway Council will require Covid-Liability Waiver for any on GSGC property events. Troop Leaders can choose to use this form for their troop activities and events.
Troop Meetings and Community Events
Troop meetings and activities can attend in person or virtually. When larger troops meet, it is recommended to work in smaller groups/pods to limit group interaction. Outdoor spaces where social distancing can be maintained are strongly recommended for meetings. Try not to share resources when possible or clean between use.
For meetings held at public facilities, contact the facility ahead of time and ask:
· Is the space cleaned, and hard touch surfaces sanitized, at least daily?
· Does anyone else use the space? If yes, is the space cleaned between groups?
· How easily are hand washing areas available to the group?
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 if possible. However, if a home is the only place that a troop can meet in person the troop leader must submit a request to meet in one’s home to council for approval.
· Any resident of the home 18 years of age or older must be a member of Girl Scouts and background checked.
· Gateway Council must approve in home meetings prior to occurrence.
Individual parents drop off and pick up their own girls from meetings. Carpooling and public transportation is discouraged but this decision is up to each parent.
Virtual or Hybrid Meetings
Meeting options may need to be flexible based on the fluid nature of COVID-19 risk.
· Troops that are not fully in person can maintain virtual or hybrid troop structures.
· This may mean troops may meet in person one week and virtual the next.
· It may mean the troop meets 100% virtually.
· Parents can still allow girls to do GSGC events in person even if the troop is meeting virtually.
· Use the Safety Activity Checkpoints for Virtual Meetings to guide your meeting plans.
· When possible, provide virtual options for those that can not meet in person if your troop is also meeting in person.
· Troop Leaders are eligible to purchase an annual Zoom license to use for Girl Scout meetings and events. These renew each August and the current price is $36/year
· gsLearn also has a training on using Zoom for Troop Meetings
· GSUSA Zoom for Girl Scouts
· When troops are potentially exposed to someone with Covid-19 the troop (anyone in attendance of the exposure) will be required to meet virtually for at least 5-10 days from potential exposure.
· Additional guidelines given from council (inline with CDC recommendations) if this happens to a troop.
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 and disinfectant wipes if none will be provided for public use at the activity location.
Overnight and out-of-state trips are now permitted. Troops will be approved to travel out of state on a case by case (Trip Application basis). Trip Applications are due to council at least two weeks prior the trip. Trip applications must be submitted for all travel (within or outside of the state) and will be approved at the discretion of the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council and our safety practices. International Travel is solely approved by the Chief Executive Officer and should be submitted at least six-twelve months in advance.
Property reservations- FALL RESERVATIONS ARE OPEN
Reservations for GSGC properties are open for reservations and council sponsored events and training.
· Members may reserve space at Fernandina Beach Little House, Camp Kateri and Camp Kugelman for troop and group activities and overnights.
· Occupancy for each GSGC property varies based upon overnight sleeping arrangements. All participants must be able to sleep 6 feet apart from each other (including head to toe arrangements)
· 75% occupancy by Unit rented
· 75% for entire camp for camporees
§ Max camp occupancy of the camp is 165 people
· Increased to a max of 32 total people (16 per side of the lodge).
· 1 or 2 troops can rent at one time (16 each or 32 total people)
Fernandina Beach Little House
· 16 max occupancy for overnight rentals
· Daytime rentals can have higher occupancy if using both inside and outdoors for your activities and events. No more than 16 inside the building at one time.
· GSGC property staff will clean activity areas (e.g., archery) as needed between groups.
· The dining hall at Kateri and kitchen at Kugelman are open for use but under stricter guidelines limiting amount of people allowed in this area. Ask for more details when submitting a trip application if you need to use these spaces.
· A full list of safety guidelines will be provided to all renters and program attendees ahead of on-property events.
GSGC community camporees are currently being scheduled for Fall 2021. Please reach out via the webform to submit dates for your communities’ camporees. Campers will be required to follow the same guidelines established for all Gateway properties.
UPDATE: Membership Year 2022-Camproees are for rental of the entire property regardless of group size for the event. Each Community can secure one weekend for their fall camporee and one weekend for their spring camporee. This allows council events and smaller troop camping to still be available throughout the year.
External Rentals/Overnight Events
GSGC gives guidance for renters on our properties. We encourage troops to follow these guidelines wherever the troop camps and attends activities to keep all girls and members as safe as possible.
General Covid-19 Guidelines for all Girl Scout activities, programs, trips, and overnights
General Guidelines for in Person Meetings
· Frequent hand washing and sanitizing is always recommended.
· Troop Leaders should always have disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer on them for activities and events.
· If anyone is showing any symptoms of Covid-19 or other illness weigh on the side of caution to keep your group safe and healthy.
· All Parents must sign Covid Liability Waiver to meet in person.
· Gateway Council encourages groups of 15 or less. Larger troops can still meet but try and cohort in smaller groups while together.
· Encourage additional parents to become members and background checked to help assist in smaller group size for events.
· Large Group events of 50 or more should be approved by council at this time. Please submit to Customercare@girlscouts-gateway.org
· Masks are recommended for all members and staff when inside
buildings without the ability to socially distance
(Vaccinated or not)
· Removing a mask for a quick picture is okay indoors. The CDC discusses exposure being for 15 minutes of time over a 24-hour period. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html
· Maintain 3-6 feet from other individuals when possible.
· Mask wearing is encouraged outside when social distancing is not feasible, especially in large group events. (This does not include water activities. Masks should NEVER be worn during any boating, swimming, paddleboarding etc. type activities).
· Girl Scouts of Gateway Council strongly encourages the use of
masks when proper socially distancing cannot be achieved.
· Camp Kugelman (Alabama) will follow the same approach as Florida unless Alabama requires stricter guidelines. In this case GSGC would follow the State of Alabama for any activities at Camp Kugelman.
Covid-19 Liability Waiver
· Gateway Council will require a signed Covid-19 Liability Waiver for all girls participating in a GSGC event on a GSGC property for the Membership Year 2022.
· Troop Leaders can assist in obtaining the liability form from parents throughout the year before events occur.
· This form can be found here under Forms & Documents on the Gateway Council website. https://www.girlscouts-gateway.org/en/about-our-council/forms-documents.html
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 Gateway Council in this situation. 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.