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Working Together to Keep Our GSGC Community Safe

With the continued appearance of COVID-19 in counties within Gateway Council, we understand and share the concerns of our volunteers, parents and girl members. The health and safety of our members is our highest priority.

GSGC is closely monitoring the COVID-19 updates from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the local public health departments, and all of the counties and cities within our council boundaries.

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 and shop are closed to visitors until further notice. 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.

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Girl Scout programs and events

In keeping with guidelines from the CDC, local governments and GSUSA, Girl Scouts of Gateway Council will once again temporarily suspend all council-sponsored in-person events and programs through Oct. 1, 2020. 

GSGC's service center and shop in Jacksonville remain closed to the public until further notice. Our camp properties — Kateri and Kugelman — will reopen for day events, troop overnights, and council-sponsored programs for groups of 12 or less (10 girls/2 adults) on Oct. 1.

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

Troop meetings and activities may be resumed in groups of 12 or fewer. Please note: This number includes volunteers and parent helpers, as well as girls. Large troops should plan to meet in smaller groups to follow the guidelines.

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)? 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.

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. 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

Overnight and out-of-state trips are currently not permitted. We will review this guideline when Florida enters Phase 3 of reopening. Overnights at GSGC properties are expected to once again open on Oct. 1, 2020, but this date may change based on the status of the pandemic at that time.

Property reservations

Reservations for GSGC properties will open August 15. Members may reserve space at Camp Kugelman, Camp Kateri and the Jacksonville Service Center; the Fernandina Beach Little House will remain closed until further notice.

  • Reservations available for Oct. 1-Dec. 31.
  • Members may make reservations only for day use or troop overnights; no large-scale campouts are permitted until further notice.
    • Camp Kateri: No more than 12 people per unit.
    • Camp Kugelman: No more than 12 people.
  • Renters are required to follow all CDC, local government, GSUSA and GSGC safety guidelines for in-person events.
    • No more than 12 people together, including troop leaders.
    • Maintain a distance of six feet from other individuals; wear masks when social distancing is not feasible.
    • Remain with your own troop for all activities.
    • Remain in your unit; do not share space with other members/troops camping at the same time.
    • GSGC property staff will clean activity areas (e.g., archery) as needed between groups.
    • All food handling and dining must be done within your unit at Kateri. The dining hall at Kateri will remain closed. The kitchen at Kugelman will be open.
    • A full list of safety guidelines will be provided to all renters and program attendees ahead of on-property events.

GSGC community camporees may be scheduled for after Jan. 1, 2021. Community care managers will be reaching out to each community to identify potential dates for their community’s Camporee. Campers will be required to follow the same guidelines established for all Gateway properties. While we wish we could guarantee the ability to host Camporees, they will still be subject to rescheduling or cancelation, based on safety guidelines from the CDC, local government, GSUSA and Gateway Council.

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).

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.