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Girl Scout Safety Amid Coronavirus

The most recent update is 1-20-2022.

Recent updates are indicated with the date 7-27-2020, 8-1-2020,  8-20-2020, 8-31-2020, 9-22-2020, 10-7-2020, 11-11-2020, 4-9-2021, 5-16-2021, 7-28-2021, 8-3-2021, 9-10-2021, 10-28-2021, 1-20-2022. Originally posted March 13, 2020

The top priority at Girl Scouts of Manitou Council is the health and safety of girl members.  With this clear priority in mind, we will take each step in easing COVID19 restrictions as soon as we possibly can.  We encourage all Girl Scout volunteers and girl members to take advantage of COVID19 vaccines as soon as they can so girls can "Press Play!" for every safe and fun Girl Scout activity they dream of.

Girl Scouts of Manitou Council is monitoring the COVID-19 coronavirus situation in Wisconsin and recommendations from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Camp Association, and Girl Scouts of the USA daily 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. 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 Promise and Law require all Girl Scouts to do our best to help other people, be considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and be a sister to every Girl Scout. Taking action to keep others healthy, especially those who may be immunocompromised or have an underlying condition, is a responsibility of all Girl Scouts. Thank you for letting this be your guide as we navigate this situation together. 

In-Person Meetings, Sites, and Safety

Individual Girl Scout troops and groups can meet while following the guidance and limitations provided here.  (7-28-2021)

Groups can meet virtually or outside, or take extra special care to follow all requirements when inside or in confined spaces outside as detailed below.  Girl Scout meetings of all types are always "by invitation only." Only those who are specifically invited to a gathering should come in contact with girls during the meeting unless invited to do so. (1-20-2022)

In person meetings  -

Indoors, all Vaccinated - Adult members and Girl Scouts may meet together indoors without masks if it has been 10 days since each of those members became fully vaccinated, no one is or has experienced any COVID symptoms for at least 5 days, and the location of the meeting permits it. 

Indoors with those who are Unvaccinated - When girls and adults meet indoors, members (girls and adults) who have not been fully vaccinated for at least 10 days must be masked. If the area of the council where Girl Scouts are meeting is experiencing substantial or high COVID19 transmission rates, all persons must be masked (both vaccinated and unvaccinated).

When the Girl Scout group is just adults meeting indoors, only unvaccinated members must wear masks. (8-3-2021)

Face Coverings.  Only unvaccinated Girl Scouts must wear face coverings (masks) in enclosed places, indoors and in public places where social distancing cannot be achieved unless the area where the meeting is taking place is experiencing high or substantial COVID19 transmission rates and the group contains unvaccinated girls or girls and adults.  In this case all adult and girl members must wear a face covering.  This is done not only to protect themselves but to protect others. Face coverings, when necessary, are part of meeting the Girl Scout Promise of helping other people at all times. 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. (8-3-2021)

Troop Meeting Spaces

Follow masking requirements above. Public buildings may not permit outside groups on premises or may require masks of all people.  Always confirm and follow the most stringent rules of the location.  Check with the owner or operator to determine capacity. (5-16-2021) 

Girl Scouts of Manitou Council Sites - If your Manitou Girl Scout troop is suddenly in need of a troop meeting site due to the intepretations of COVID-19 restrictions 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. Camp buildings are not open to the public and attendance at your troop meeting is by invitation only (8-20-2020 &10-7-2020.)

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. During the week day, when the Girl Scout Center is open to the public, the capacity for meeting at the Girl Scout Center is limited to 25 people.  During the evening and weekend, attendance in the building is by invitation only. No one should enter except those invited by your troop or by council staff or volunteers. (10-7-2020)

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 indoors according to the masking requirements above.
  • 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.
  • While Girl Scout activities are taking place, entrance to the home must be by invitation only.  No public gatherings exceeding 10 people can be taking place. (10-7-2020)
  • All guidance provided here is followed. (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.

Personal contact. Hugs, handshakes, “high-fives,” and even activities like the friendship circle or squeeze can put people close enough to 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.

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

Virtual meetings The Volunteer Toolkit has expanded plans to make it easy to have both inperson and virtual meetings.   Girl Scouts at Home and The Troop Leader Blueprints on our website also have have fabulous resources, meeting plans, tips and other helps to make your virtual meetings successful and fun. 

Even when it is safe to meet face-to-face, 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 and Virtual Meetings

The Volunteer Toolkit has expanded plans to make it easy to have both inperson and virtual meetings.   Girl Scouts at Home and The Troop Leader Blueprints on our website also have have fabulous resources, meeting plans, tips and other helps to make your virtual meetings successful and fun. 

Even when it is safe to meet face-to-face, 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. 

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 available especially to Girl Scouts troops to allow for unlimited use time and all the bells and whistles. These low cost Zoom Licenses can be purchased directly from the Girl Scout online shop. (7-28-2021)

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 fall edition features advice, inspiration, activities, recipes, games and more learning fun! We hope you enjoy this issue. For a printer friendly version - click here

 

Girl Scout Center and Assistance from Employees

The Girl Scout Center is open for visitors:

Monday - Thursday 8:00 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (9-10-2021)

The Girl Scouts of Manitou Council remains ready to help bring the Girl Scout program to girls.  Facemasks are required for those who are not vaccinated against COVID19 when visiting the Girl Scout Center and extras will be available for those who do not bring one.  

Two family groups can be in the reception area of the Girl Scout Center. One family group at a time may shop in the Petals to Patches shop for a maximum of 20 minutes per family. (10-7-2020)

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 Girl Scout Shop to order Girl Scout items to be delivered to you.
  • Call ahead and make an appointment with any staff member. 
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:

  • masks should be worn by all people in the car who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID19 for at least 10 days and by everyone if the area of the council is experiencing high or substantial COVID19 transmission rates (7-28-2021). 
  • 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 (10-28-2021):

Unvaccinated girls and adult members - Masks must be worn by those not fully vaccinated while indoors (except while eating, showering, and sleeping) and by all people if the area visiting is experiencing high or substantial COVID19 transmission rates. Attendance by those outside the troop is "by the troop's invitation only." 

It is best if parents individually transport their girls to and from council facilities.  If carpooling is the only option:

  • masks should be worn by all people in the car who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID19 for at least 10 days and by everyone if the area of the council is experiencing substantial or high COVID19 transmission rates (7-28-2021).
  • keep car windows opened, at least slightly, to increase air circulation. (7/27/2020)

Fully vaccinated girls and adult members - Adult members and Girl Scouts, may participate in overnight stays without masking if it has been 10 days since each member in the group became fully vaccinated against COVID19 unless the area of travel is experiencing high or substantial COVID19 transmission rates. Each member of the group must follow what constitutes the highest level of precautions for COVID safety in the place they are visiting at the time (National CDC/state and county health departments/individual businesses.)

As always, follow guidance in Safety Activity Checkpoints and follow all council guidance.

When areas of the council are experiencing high or substantial COVID19 transmission rates, or an outbreak of COVID19 within troop member families requires it, troops may cancel their overnight reservation at Camp Manitou or Camp Evelyn due to COVID19 concerns and receive a full refund of the payment or certificate used to make the reservation.  There may be time restrictions for rebooking using a certificate. (7-28-2021)

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)

Cookie Sale Rewards Involving Travel

Through the Girl Scout Cookie Sale many troops earned tickets to the Blue Harbor Water Park in Sheboygan, the Bristol Rennaissance Faire, Kalahari Indoor Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, and the Milwaukee Zoo. 

We will keep troops who earn these awards informed when it is not possible to redeem those awards due to health concerns.  If awards are completely not able to be redeemed due to the health guidelines of the council or the location, alternative awards will be provided. (1-20-22)

Follow guidelines for troop activities in traveling to these destinations.

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 meetings face to face, 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