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Girl Scout Safety Amid Coronavirus

Originally posted: March 13, 2020

The most recent update is effective August 31, 2020. Recent updates are indicated with the date 7-27-2020, 8-1-2020,  8-20-2020, and 8-31-2020

Girl Scouts of Manitou Council is monitoring the COVID-19 coronavirus situation in Wisconsin and following recommendations from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Girl Scouts of the USA with regard to recommendations for Girl Scout activities in our council. 

Girl Scouts, whether gathering in-person or virtually, is providing fun socialization, normalcy, and a supportive sisterhood for girls during this challenging, situation. Recent studies document that their children's isolation from their friends and loneliness is the number one concern of parents during this time.  Girl Scout volunteers are playing a critical role in supporting girls now, like never before, at a time when they too are challenged.  They are role models of perserverance and flexibility.  The Girl Scout Law requires all Girl Scouts to do our best to be considerate and caring, courageous and strong. Thank you for letting this be your guide as we navigate this situation together. 

Troop Meetings, Sites, and Safety

The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in Manitou Council has risen in the past 14 days and considerably exceed the state average.  Troop-sized groups can meet virtually or outside, or take extra special care to practice safe social distancing and wear masks at all times when inside or in confined spaces outside.  Multiple troops or larger Girl Scouts groups should only meet in person if outside where social distancing can be practiced. Limit the number of people who are not troop members from coming in contact with the girls. (8-31-2020)

Individual Girl Scout troops and groups can meet while following the guidance and limitations provided here.  (8-31-2020)

Face Coverings.  Girl Scouts must wear face coverings (masks) in enclosed places, indoors and in public places where social distancing cannot be achieved, 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. Troops should have disposable masks on hand for those who do not bring their own mask. 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. In these cases, social distancing must be strictly maintained. (8-20-2020)

Troop Meeting Spaces

Outdoor spaces where social distancing can be maintained are strongly recommended for meetings and activities. Get advance permission from the property owner, manager or the jurisdiction that provides the location. 

Indoor Spaces - Masks must be worn in all indoor/enclosed spaces or outside when social distancing cannot occur. (8-1-2020) Schools or churches may not permit outside groups on premises, so always check and confirm ahead of time. Once you know you can use the site, 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.

Girl Scouts of Manitou Council Sites - If your Manitou Girl Scout troop is suddenly in need of a troop meeting site due to the COVID-19 restrictions interpreted on public buildings and are in the area around Camp Manitou, Camp Evelyn or the Girl Scout Center, the Girl Scouts of Manitou Council is offering our troops the opportunity to use council buildings for troop meetings free of charge. (8-20-2020)

Camp buildings will be available for troop meeting use Sunday 4:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., and all through the week daily 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., to Friday at 3 p.m.

The Girl Scout Center will be available for troop meeting use from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily.

It is our hope to schedule troops for 1.5 hours per meeting, leaving a half hour between meetings to allow for social distancing and sanitizing. All safety and COVID-19-related guidelines must be followed in council buildings. We will be asking troop leaders to do basic sanitizing of buildings after each meeting to prepare for the next troop. 

Click here to request a Manitou Council site for your troop meeting.

Homes - If meeting in the home is the only option due to restrictions on public meeting spaces:

  • The home must be the home of registered, background checked, council approved Volunteer.
  • There must be at least two registered, unrelated, approved volunteers present at all times. 
  • Girls may not meet in a home where a registered sex offender lives.
  • The troop needs to be able to focus without disruptions from other household members.
  • Masks must be worn at all times indoors by all those in the residence when girls are present. (8-1-2020)
  • Animals should be kept in a place that is separate from the meeting space.
  • The Homeowner should ask their Homeowner’s insurance carrier if there are any insurance exclusions regarding holding troop meetings at the home, in the event an accident or injury occurs. 
  • Weapons must be completely out of view and stored in a locked space.
  • Medication, dangerous cleaning products, or any poisonous substance must be stored in a secure space out of sight, preferably locked.
  • Meetings should ideally be held outdoors, perhaps in the back or front yard of the home.
  • All guidance provided here is followed. (8-20-2020)

Meetings may not be held in fitness centers or gyms, where a greater risk for contracting the virus may exist.

Restrooms If there is no regulation about the number of persons in the restroom, have volunteers ensure girls take appropriate turns to maintain social distancing and that they wear their masks in the restrooms.  After hand-washing, use tissue or paper towel to open doors and latches, touching as little as possible. (7-27-2020)

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. Girl Scouts of the USA 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.  Girl Scouts at Home has fabulous resources, meeting plans, tips and other helps to make your virtual meetings successful and fun. Free Zoom licenses allow for meetings of 40 minutes and less.  Low cost ZOOM Licenses are available for Girl Scout troops to purchase beginning in late August to enable unlimited time of use and all the "bells and whistles" of Zoom. (8-20-2020)

Hygiene and COVID-19 Risk Mitigation. Follow the resources developed by credible public health sources such as the 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 are available on the CDC website.  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 an FDA approved hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Wash hands if you do touch.

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 FDA approved 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.

Disinfectants and Disinfecting. Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched in your meeting site (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
Transportation, Travel, & Overnights

Transportation. Individual parents should drop off and pick up their own girls from meetings and for overnight stays at council facilities. Carpooling and public transportation should be avoided, where possible, to maintain social distancing. If carpooling is the only option:

  • cars should be disinfected before girls enter the car
  • masks should be worn by all people in the car. 
  • keep car windows opened, at least slightly, to increase air circulation. (7/27/2020)

Day trips and activities. Follow all guidance in this document and in Safety Activity Checkpoints. 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.  Make whatever appropriate accommodations are necessary. For example, bring extra sanitizer  or masks if none will be provided for public use at the activity location.

Overnight Stays: Currently overnight Girl Scout trips are only permitted at council-owned facilities.  Masks must be worn while indoors at council facilities (8-1-2020) It is best if parents individually transport their girls to and from council facilities.  If carpooling is the only option:

  • cars should be disinfected before girls enter the car
  • masks should be worn by all people in the car. 
  • keep car windows opened, at least slightly, to increase air circulation. (7/27/2020)

As always, follow guidance in Safety Activity Checkpoints and follow all council guidance when staying overnight at a council-owned facility.

Food, Dining, and Snacks

Be careful when handling and serving food and have girls be careful with each other when eating.  Safety recommendations for food, dining and snacks include:

  • Encourage girls to bring their own foods to eat (bag lunch or dinner)
  • Encourage girls not to share their food after having touched it, such as a bag of chips.
  • Individually wrapped items are recommended.
  • If providing snacks, especially if unwrapped, have one person, wearing gloves, hand out items to each person, such as with cupcakes or cookies.
  • Use a serving spoon or scoop rather than reaching into a bag or bowl of snacks.
  • Use disposable plates, forks, napkins, etc.  when possible.
  • Encourage girls to bring foods they can easily cook themselves (a prepacked foil pack) or hotdog for outdoor cooking.
  • Ensure everyone handling food, those serving, girls, adults, wash hands (even if they will be wearing gloves) prior to any food prep or meals, following CDC handwashing guidelines. 
  • If sharing outdoor cooking utensils (roasting forks), they should be washed and sanitized between each use or bring enough utensils so that each person gets their own. 
  • Continue recommendation for 6 foot spacing during mealtimes. 
  • Remove masks indoors only when eating or drinking. (8-1-2020)          
  • Buffet lines, serve-yourself buffets, and public restaurants are not recommended.

(7/27/2020)

Girl Scout Center and Assistance from Employees

The Girl Scout Center is open for visitors:

Monday - Thursday 8 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Friday 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

The Girl Scouts of Manitou Council remains ready to help bring the Girl Scout program to girls.  Facemasks are required when visiting the Girl Scout Center and extras will be available for those who do not bring one.  Employees with whom you will work will be wearing facemasks. (8-1-2020)

One family group at a time may shop in the Petals to Patches shop for a maximum of 20 minutes per family. 

Car-side delivery of your order can be made by calling 920-565-4575, ext 310 before arriving. 

Council Employees are working in the Girl Scout Center, at camp and from home.  You are free to contact them at any of these places. 

You can also feel free to continue to:

  • Send us an email at growstrong@gsmanitou.org
  • Call us at 920-565-4575 to leave message,
  • Contact a specific employee directly, using our Staff Directory, or
  • Log on to the Petals to Patches Girl Scout Shop to order Girl Scout items to be delivered to you, free of shipping on all orders.
  • Call ahead and make an appointment with any staff member. 
Cookie Sale Rewards Involving Travel

Through the Girl Scout Cookie Sale many troops earned tickets to the Kalahari Indoor Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, the Milwaukee Zoo, the Bristol Rennaisance Faire, and the Blue Harbor Waterpark in Sheboygan.  The Bristol Rennaissance Faire has decided not to open so troops have been contacted to select an alternative location.  Since overnight trips are not permitted at this time, troops are encouraged to:

  • follow guidelines for troop activities in traveling to these destinations for day trips, or 
  • provide the tickets to girls and their parents so that families may use them as a family (rather than troop) Girl Scout experience. 

Instruction and information on ordering tickets can be found here.

Girl Scouts at Home and Virtual Meetings

Girl Scouts of the USA and Girl Scouts of Manitou Council is proud to offer Girl Scouts at Home, an innovative way for families or troops virtually to embrace the experiences, learning and joy of Girl Scouts - for free - wherever they may be. We've reimagined our program in a way that lets girls take part - with their families or on their own - using items they likely already have at home.

We know that every person and every family is having a different experience. Girl Scouts at Home will continue to be available and updated with more activities. Check it out whenever you are ready or need it.  

Free Zoom Licenses allow for groups to meet up to 40 minutes.  Low cost Zoom Licenses are being made available especially to Girl Scouts troops in late August to allow for unlimited use time and all the bells and whistles. (8-20-2020)

Media Stars: One easy thing Girl Scouts of ALL AGES can do at home (with minimal supervision) is become a Media Star. Our Director of Communications started this program to work with Girl Scouts to tell their stories and share their creativity. For participating, Girl Scouts will receive the special Media Star fun patch for free. 

Sharing a story can mean a lot of things: an art project, self portrait, vision or inspiration board, news article, fictional short story, listicle, quiz, video, song, script, blog post, and more. The sky is the limit! The topic can be anything related to Girl Scouts or current events. Our Director of Communications is virtually available to help girls throughout the process. Questions or have a completed project? Contact cassie@gsmanitou.org. Check here for more information and to see some of our current Media Stars projects. 

Manitou GIRL Magazine:  Girl Scouts of Manitou Council has a digital magazine aimed at Girl Scouts and their parents. Each issue features articles and ideas on Girl Scout topics, stories written by local Girl Scouts, advice and inspirational stories, STEM activities, crafts, fun activities or quizzes, and a recipe! Check out all our issues  here . 

The newest edition is now here! The April edition is a mega issue, featuring double the amount of advice, inspiration, activities, recipes, games and more learning fun! We hope you enjoy this issue. For a printer friendly version - click here

Junior Balloon Car Design Challenge At Home Badge Opportunity: Girl Scout Juniors can work on earning their Balloon Car Design Challenge at home! You will learn about air power and create an alternative fuel car. The steps include: learning about potential and kinetic energy, design and build a balloon car, test your car, analyze and share results, and brainstorm ways to improve your design. To get started, watch this meeting video. You can also check out different design ideas here and on Youtube. Show us a picture or video of your balloon car by emailing cassie@gsmanitou.org!

Not a Junior or already earned this badge? Don't worry - we're working on other badges and opportunities for Girl Scouts of all ages and will keep updating this page as more are available.

Reporting Potential COVID19 Contact and Exposure

In the event of a suspected COVID-19 infection or a positive test result among members of your troop, do NOT contact the parents or troop members yourself. Promptly contact Girl Scouts of Manitou Council at (920) 565-4575 in this situation. Other contact numbers are on your emergency procedures card. A council staff member will work with you to contact the public health department so that the following can be done by the public health personnel in a legal, methodical and safe way:

  • 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 the identity of those involved is confidential. 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, health department or health care personnel.

Keep her engaged and inspired in challenging times. Renew Now.

Supporting Your Sister Girl Scouts

Much research exists that shows that children are more resiliant in unfamiliar or traumatic circumstances if they know that there are adults who care about them in addition to their parents.  Whether you decide to hold a meeting this summer or not, we encourage our Girl Scout troop leaders to reach out to the girls in their troops by phone, email or text to be sure they know you are thinking of them and that Girl Scouts will resume.

Be a Source of Calm for Girls

Use this helpful resource How to Talk to Your Girl About Coronavirus from Girl Scouts of the USA to help minimize her stress and worry. 

In supporting others through this time of concern, and always, follow the Girl Scout Law.

I will do my best to be
    honest and fair,
    friendly and helpful,
    considerate and caring, 
    courageous and strong, and
    responsible for what I say and do, 
and to 
    respect myself and others, 
    respect authority,
    use resources wisely,
    make the world a better place, and 
    be a sister to every Girl Scout. 

Girl Scouts have always been a part of the solution in every crisis that has faced this nation, from wars to social upheavals. Encourage others to follow good preventative measures. Be compassionate to friends who may be frightened or sad. Let's look for ways for our Girl Scouts to help during this period of concern as well. All ideas will be welcome. 

If you have questions or concerns, contact us:

growstrong@gsmanitou.org
920-565-4575