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Resources and Guidance in Response to COVID-19

Last Modified 11/15/2021

Mask Update: Masks are now optional for girls, volunteers and staff in all indoor and outdoor spaces. Please continue to follow local guidelines on masks which may vary based on meeting location.

Please note: Because local mask guidelines may continue to change, we are leaving all the information in the drop down menus below as if we were operating with required mask guidelines in place should we need to quickly update.

Thank you for being a part of the Girl Scout family and supporting your girl's experience. It has never been more apparent in the GSKSMO council that our girls and leaders are truly resilient and able to pivot!  The challenge of COVID-19 has pushed us to become innovators and helped us adapt to creating safe, challenging activities that continue to engage our girls in safe spaces.  

We will continue to analyze and make necessary changes to our policies for the safety of our troops and families.

We want to provide our volunteers with support to continue providing a quality Girl Scout experience. It is an important time to be a great Girl Scout and demonstrate Girl Scout values.

Our recommendations are for now only and may change based on the ever-shifting impact of the virus. Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri will always default to state and federal guidelines and safety protocols as safety is the highest priority. Expect our council to be agile and modify these recommendations as conditions shift for our area.

Communications to our Volunteers and Families
Vaccination FAQs

FAQs for COVID-19 Vaccinations

March 2021

1. Once adults are permitted to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in their home state, are volunteers required to be vaccinated before they can meet in person with girls?

GSKSMO strongly encourages, but does not require, vaccination for volunteers.

 

2. Can council staff members inquire about the vaccination status of volunteers?

Council staff should not inquire about a volunteer’s vaccination status. Deciding to receive a vaccine is a personal decision and GSKSMO encourages our staff and members to respect the privacy of fellow members and their families.

 

3. Can parents/caregivers ask about the vaccination status of volunteers?

While parents/caregivers may certainly ask, volunteers are under no obligation to disclose their personal vaccination status. Also, under no circumstances should a volunteer discuss the personal healthcare decisions of another volunteer with anyone.

 

4. Can parents/caregivers or volunteers ask about the vaccination status of council staff and camp staff?

While parents/caregivers may certainly ask and GSKSMO strongly encourages all council staff members who can get vaccinated to become vaccinated when the vaccine is available to them, council staff are under no obligation to disclose their personal vaccination status.

 

5. Can parents/caregivers ask other parents/caregivers about the vaccination status of girls in the troop?

Parents/caregivers are certainly free to discuss vaccinations with other parents/caregivers when both parties are open to that conversation. However, parents/caregivers should not feel obligated to share personal medical information if they choose to maintain their privacy in the matter. GSKSMO encourages parents/caregivers to respect the privacy of the girls and other adults in their girl’s troop.

 

6. Once vaccinations for children are available, can councils or troop leaders require girls to be vaccinated before they attend in-person activities?

GSKSMO strongly encourages, but does not require, vaccination for children, as it becomes available. 

 

7. Once someone is vaccinated, do they have to continue to practice the safety protocols as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), such as social distancing, washing their hands frequently, and wearing a mask?

Yes. For the protection of all members as well as the families and communities we serve, GSKSMO will continue to practice, and encourage all members of the Movement to practice, all CDC-recommended health and safety protocols, regardless of whether or not an individual has received the vaccine.

How We Developed Our Guidance Response

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to change as infection rates rise and fall in different areas. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus that spreads easily in the community.  This guidance is developed for our council based on resources from Girl Scouts of the USA, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the States of Kansas & Missouri.

Communicating with Families and Considerations for Access / Inclusion

This guidance recognizes the need to take all reasonable precautions to limit potential exposure for girls, volunteers, and families.  It is the sole discretion of each individual family and their comfort level with the planned activity. Good communication with families and fellow volunteers is vital. Discuss plans with families and fellow volunteers and be flexible and patient as you work together to decide the best course of action. Inclusion and access are critically important as Girl Scouts considers planning in-person activities.

Make sure that you have considered access and inclusion as you make your plans. Here are some prompts to get you started:

  • Do all girls have access to transportation? 
  • How about internet and devices?
  • Are all families comfortable being in person? 
  • Are there immunosuppressed girls or family members in your group or troop?  
  • Consider planning meetings that girls can participate in virtually or in person.
Troop and Service Unit Activities
Meeting Spaces

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

Due to the current restriction of public meeting options, in-home meetings may be approved on a case by case basis by completing In Home Troop Meeting Form.

Please consider the following before considering meeting in a home. Troop meetings in the home may provide a greater risk of exposure to other family members.

  • The home must be the home of a registered, background checked, council approved volunteer.
  • Girls may not meet in a home where a registered sex offender lives.
  • All adults living in the home require Girl Scout membership and eligible background checks.
  • The troop needs to be able to focus without disruptions from other household members.
  • Animals should be kept in a place that is separate from the meeting space.
  • Homeowners should consider any personal homeowner insurance implications. 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.
  • Ensure that the Hygiene and Risk Mitigation and all other guidance in this document are followed. (this is a COVID-19 specific precaution)
Backyard Meetings:

For back and front yard meetings, make sure that the grounds are safe for children. For example, be careful that pools are fenced or otherwise safely sectioned off. The same goes for any equipment or tools or recreational apparatus that is deemed unsafe for girls such as outdoor trampolines.

  • Make sure that pets are kept separate from the girls meeting space.
  • Ensure that both the troop leader and co-leader can see girls and monitor their whereabouts at all times.
  • Maintain the use of the buddy system for errands or bathroom breaks.
  • If the property is large, ensure that the meetings space is kept distinctly separate from non-members.
Troop Meeting Size

Restrictions vary greatly from state to state, county to county, and even from town to town--and frequently change.  Please be sure to check and follow your local restrictions and guidelines for gatherings.  

If you have a large troop, stay connected while you wait for a safe time for everyone to gather. Large troops are wonderful, so stay together! Some ideas: 

  • Host virtual troop meetings (see below). 
  • Gather up in smaller groups—such as age-level groups, patrols, or groups of girls with a particular badge they’d like to work on. 
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.

Additional Resources
Transportation

It is strongly recommended to adopt a zero-transportation policy (no car-pooling girls) until the county, town or region is safely past its final phase of re-opening.  

Until then, individual parents drop off and pick up their own girls from meetings and carpooling or public transportation should be avoided and not encouraged in order to maintain social distancing.  

Once a county or region is fully past its final re-opening stage, car-pooling may resume as necessary with precautions. For example:

  • Girls and adults should wear masks when inside of a motor vehicle
  • Keep car window opened, at least slightly, to circulate fresh air.  
  • Consider the personal situation of your girls:   
    1. Do they live with an immune compromised person that they can put at risk? If so, perhaps make other accommodations for her with her parents.
    2. Have the families been isolating, and free from contagion? If so the troop may essentially be a safe bubble.

Remember, sustained contact within less than six (6) feet for longer than ten (10) minutes within an enclosed area creates high risk for virus transmission, so be very careful with carpool decisions.

CDC guidance for ride shares and drivers for hire may be helpful as an additional reference when evaluating motor vehicle transportation or car-pooling: Ride Shares and Drivers for Hire

Public Transportation:

Public transportation should be avoided whenever possible as large groups of people, indoors, for longer than ten minutes are typical of most public transportation which increases transmission risk. Also, maintaining six feet social distance is often difficult or impossible with public transportation. If public transportation is necessary, the following guidelines are recommend.

  • Avoid peak hours
  • Allow extra time to wait and avoid crowded buses or subway cars or capacity restrictions 
  • Space out girls to avoid crowding (but keep to the buddy system)
  • Consider grade level, age and maturity level of girls
  • Always wear a mask
  • Obtain parental or legal guardian permission, make sure they are aware
  • Clean hands before and after public transportation travel.
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 a buffet line only if staffed with a safely protected server with mask and gloves.
  • Avoid “serve yourself” buffets. 
  • Public dining only as permitted in your local jurisdiction. 
  • If serving family style, have one person, wearing clean gloves, serve everyone on clean plates
  • 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.      
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, have volunteers 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.

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. GSUSA 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. Use the Safety Activity Checkpoints for Virtual Meetings, to guide your meeting plans.

Review our Virtual Meeting Options and Steps

Day Trips and Activities

In conjunction with Safety Activity Checkpoints, the guidance for Troop Meetings and Hygiene and COVID-19 Risk Mitigation in this interim guidance should be used for day trips and special activities. 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 wipe downs in between uses for equipment at the gym.  Make whatever appropriate accommodations that are necessary. For example, bring extra sanitizer or disinfectant wipes if none will be provided for public use at the activity location.

 

Travel and Overnight Stays
Indoor Overnights in KS & MO

Beginning May 1, 2021, troop indoor overnights in Kansas or Missouri are open to all GS levels, Daisy-Ambassador troops. Volunteers are encouraged to follow the below guidelines in addition to Safety Activity Checkpoints for overnights. When sleeping overnight at a council property, refer to Overnight Camping and Adventure section.

  • If possible, create at least six feet of space between beds.
  • If utilizing head-to-toe orientation four feet of space between beds is acceptable.
  • If possible, minimize the number of people sleeping in a space by converting common spaces to sleeping areas.
  • Position sleepers head-to-toe or toe-to-toe to maximize distance between heads/faces:
    - For bunk beds, position the head of the camper in the top bunk opposite the position of the camper in the bottom bunk.
    - For side-by-side beds, position the head of the camper in one bed opposite the position of the camper in the adjacent bunk.
    - For end-to-end beds, position the toes of each camper close to the other camper’s toes.
  • Best practice: Create physical barriers between sleepers, especially if a distance of six feet cannot be created, using curtains, sheets, barriers, etc.
Domestic Travel Approval Outside KS & MO

Effective May 28th, 2021, domestic travel approval is dependent upon meeting the eligibility requirements listed on the Trip and Travel Application and will be approved on a case-by-case basis. Due to the varied conditions in each state, volunteers must seek prior council approval before planning any overnight activities and continue to practice the Hygiene and COVID-19 Risk Mitigation guidance outlined on the GSKSMO council website.

Although travel plans are often arranged several months in advance, recognize that the COVID-19 risk is fluid; it can and will change, and contingencies should be planned ahead of time for re-scheduling, cancelling, or pivoting to a virtual activity. GSKSMO council reserves the right to make changes if necessary to their troop travel allowances with limited prior notification based on guidance from local health agencies and governments. 

For all planned trips, create a timeline and identify a final date when decisions must be made about whether or not to move forward with the planned trip, based primarily on the safety of our girls, along with financial commitment deadlines and/or other factors.  Consider purchasing travel insurance (be sure to understand if the policy has COVID-19 or pandemic exclusions); plan to bring 1-2 adults beyond the ratio-required number of adults and to pre-book an extra accommodation space, in case it is necessary to isolate a traveler from the rest of the group

Camping and Adventure

Adventure programs are available to all grade levels during spring and fall. The schedule of activities can be found on the outdoor calendar.

Beginning May 1, 2021, troop camping overnights are open to all GS levels, Daisy-Ambassador troops. As always, before planning any overnight stays, follow guidance in Safety Activity Checkpoints.

Outdoor Training Requirements for Overnights

Mask Requirements
All persons visiting camp must have a face mask in their possession. Face masks must be worn indoors when in the presence of anyone outside your household and outdoors when 6ft of distance cannot be maintained from others. 

COVID-19 Pre-Campout Screening
All campout participants should pre-screen at home prior to your campout.  If a person has any of the symptoms identified by the CDC, they might have an illness they can spread to others and should not attend the campout.

Overnight Camping Capacities
Beginning May 1st all overnight camping capacity restrictions for buildings and permatents on GSKSMO properties will return to normal capacity. Groups should continue to follow the recommendations stated below from the ACA (American Camping Association) to promote social distancing while sleeping as well as any other local health guidelines.

  • If possible, create at least six feet of space between beds.
  • If utilizing head-to-toe orientation four feet of space between beds is acceptable.
  • If possible, minimize the number of people sleeping in a space by converting common spaces to sleeping areas.
  • Position sleepers head-to-toe or toe-to-toe to maximize distance between heads/faces:
    • For bunk beds, position the head of the camper in the top bunk opposite the position of the camper in the bottom bunk.
    • For side-by-side beds, position the head of the camper in one bed opposite the position of the camper in the adjacent bunk.
    • For end-to-end beds, position the toes of each camper close to the other camper’s toes.
  • Best practice: Create physical barriers between sleepers, especially if a distance of six feet cannot be created, using curtains, sheets, barriers, etc.

Tent Camping campers should either tent with members of their household or alone. If individuals from different households must share a tent, the tent should be large enough to promote as much social distancing as possible while using the recommendations above. 

Cleaning, Sanitation & Hygiene
Frequent hand washing and sanitation of commonly touched surfaces is important to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our staff will be performing regular, scheduled cleaning of all common areas throughout camp and between reservations. Each group should perform appropriate cleaning

Community Partner Activities

Community partners may offer in person activities for groups this fall.  Each community partner will follow the guidelines and recommendations for gatherings in the jurisdiction where the event is held.  

If you have questions about a specific in person Community Partner Event, please reach out directly to the contact for that event listed on our website.    

When speaking with a You Schedule It Community Partner, please consider addressing the following questions when booking your event:

  • 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)?  
  • Will everyone at the event be required to wear masks if social distancing is not able to be implemented?  

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.

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.

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.  Members with fever or temperature higher than 100.3 should skip the in-person gathering.

Signs

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.
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

Along with the standard First Aid Kit supplies, kits should also 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. Talk to us about any alternative methods of training that may be available during this time, such as on-line training. For the time period that that in-person training is not available, volunteers can receive on-line training with a council approved training provider. Once possible in your jurisdiction, have volunteers resume in-person skills assessment.

Disinfectants & 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.). 

See the CDC’s website for more on cleaning and disinfecting community facilities.  

Face Coverings

Masks are required for girls, volunteers and staff in all indoor spaces. Masks highly recommended for close contact outdoor activities. Then continue to follow your area’s guidelines on masks.

If you have questions, please contact customercare@gsksmo.org.

Reporting and communicating a positive COVID 19 Test

All health information is private/confidential to be shared only on a need to know basis. There are laws and regulations governing sharing of health data.

In the event of a COVID-19 positive test result, do NOT contact the parents or troop members. Promptly contact Amy Rothery-Colin at  amycolin@gsksmo.org 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.