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COVID-19 Updates | Resources

Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey is closely monitoring novel coronavirus (COVID-19) updates from the  Centers for Disease Control, the  World Health Organization, and the  New Jersey Department of Health.

As Girl Scouts, the safety and well-being of our girls, volunteers, families, and staff are our primary concern, and we are taking appropriate measures to ensure girls continue to have a safe Girl Scout experience. 
 

COVID Guidelines for Troop Meetings & Other Activities (Updated 3/7/2022)

Updated 3/7/2022

NJ Mask Mandate Lifted 3/7/2022

At Girl Scouts, there is nothing we take more seriously than the safety and well-being of our girls, volunteers, and council staff. We have been continuing to monitor communications from the governors’ offices, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, among others. Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey still supports the wearing of masks, especially for those who are not yet vaccinated; however, beginning March 7, 2022, mask-wearing will no longer be mandatory for members, volunteers, visitors or council staff. Please see full policy change for additional information.

UPDATE 3/1/2022, Masking Update Effective March 7: With the decrease in COVID-19 cases, removal of some local masking policies, and increase in vaccination rates, Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey is providing updated masking guidance for Girl Scout activities in our council, effective starting March 7, 2022.

Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey still supports the wearing of masks, especially for those who are not yet vaccinated. However, mask wearing will no longer be mandatory unless a troop leader or meeting location has different rules. We recognize that some volunteers may not be comfortable with their troops/groups being unmasked. With that in mind, if volunteers/leaders would prefer to have their groups masked, they are permitted to put that requirement in place. If the location you are utilizing for meetings or activities has more stringent policies in place than the current GSNNJ guidance, you must follow the location’s policies.

This guidance also applies to visitors and staff at any GSNNJ facilities. Masks are highly recommended, especially for those who are not yet vaccinated, but they are not going to be required. However, for health/personal reasons, some staff may request that you wear a mask when you are meeting with them, and if you would prefer staff be masked when you are with us, we are more than happy to wear a mask at your request!

As part of the Girl Scout Law, we pledge to respect ourselves and others, and we ask that you continue to be respectful of an individual’s masking decision. As always, we ask that you continue to follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and your state and local government’s guidelines and restrictions as they change. Please continue to practice good handwashing, sanitizing, and social distancing practices.

We will continue to update this COVID-19 Info page with the most current policies and procedures pertaining to this ever-evolving pandemic.

Thank you for your continued support and flexibility.

   

Updated 3/7/2022 and Effective 3/7/2022

The following are COVID-19 safety guidelines from our Council, however, please follow any additional guidelines in place at each location your Girl Scouts are utilizing, such as schools, recreation centers, libraries, and houses of worship, when visiting those facilities. (*NOTE: See location-specific information below our guidelines).

Guidelines for In-Person Troop Meetings

Troops can meet virtually or in-person: outdoor and indoor meetings are permitted. 

Troop Guidelines can help guide preventive actions to protect against COVID-19 considering the level of current risk. GSNNJ may modify this guidance as circumstances require.

Volunteer Awareness:  Volunteers should be reminded, and acknowledge understanding, that COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus that spreads easily in the community. Volunteers should take all reasonable precautions to limit potential exposure for girls, themselves, and families. It is an important time to be a great Girl Scout and demonstrate Girl Scout values.

Pre-screening and Symptoms Check: Prior to attending in-person troop meetings and activities, all participants should complete the COVID Member Participation Screening Form and provide to the Troop Leader. This screening form is deigned to cover all meetings and activities for the year and does not need to be completed for each individual meeting.

Refer to the GSNNJ Attendee COVID-19 Screening Form.

Please be sensitive to the fact that girls may be experiencing symptoms that are similar but completely unrelated to COVID-19 and not contagious at all such as menstrual body aches or headaches or allergies or a pre-existing condition. The goal is to keep the meeting safe from contagion and do the very best to ensure our girls are educated and healthy, not to make it unnecessarily difficult or uncomfortable.

Troop Meetings:

  • There are no numerical limits for indoor or outdoor gatherings. Masks are encouraged for unvaccinated individuals; however, masks are no longer mandatory. If all members are vaccinated, there are no social distancing requirements; otherwise, three feet social distancing should be maintained at this time.
  • If volunteers/leaders would prefer to have their groups masked, they are permitted to put that requirement in place. If the location you are utilizing for meetings or activities has more stringent policies in place than the current GSNNJ guidance, you must follow the location’s policies.
  • Virtual meetings: Meeting options may need to be flexible based on the fluid nature of COVID-19 risk. Troops that can run online meetings as needed (or wanted) should continue to 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. For more information on how to plan a great virtual meeting: Tips, Tools, and Ideas for Planning a Great Virtual Meeting

In-Home Troop Meetings in the front or back yard:  The general recommendation is to stay away from any type of in-home meetings. At this time, outdoor meetings, such as in the back or front yard, are permitted in private homes, providing the following guidelines are met. 

Please note that since it may be necessary for girls to enter a home to use the bathroom, all guidelines must be met, even though the meeting will be outdoors. If members enter to use the bathroom, surfaces should be disinfected between use. Girls should not enter the home to use the bathroom unattended.

  • The home must be the home of registered, background checked, council approved volunteer.
  • Family members who live in the home do not include elderly or immune compromised individuals.
  • 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.
  • Animals must 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.
  • Ensure that the Hygiene and Risk Mitigation and all other guidance in this document are followed.

Troop Meeting Space: Indoor or outdoor spaces where social distancing can be maintained are strongly recommended. Volunteers should get advance permission from the property owner or the jurisdiction that provides the location. For meetings held at public facilities, volunteers should 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)?

Troop Day Trips: Day trips are permitted following Safety-Activity Checkpoints and GSNNJ Covid-19 guidelines.

Travel, Camping, and Overnight Stays: These activities are permitted (effective 1/18/22) for ages 5 and older. Vaccinations are not required, but are recommended.

These activities will follow, but are not limited to, these procedures:

  • Sleeping 3 feet apart and head to toe
  • No shared supplies; all supplies cleaned prior to use
  • Hand sanitizer used at the beginning of all stations
  • Windows and doors open weather permitting

Transportation (Car-pooling): If all members are vaccinated, carpooling is allowed; however, it is recommended that individual parents drop off and pick up their own girls from meetings and carpooling or public transportation should be avoided in order to maintain social distancing.

Hygiene and COVID-19 Risk Mitigation: 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 can transmit COVID-19 from person to person. 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.

First Aid / CPR Training: Keep skills up to date for any emergency.

Disinfectants and Disinfecting: Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched (i.e., tabletops, 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: NJ mask mandates are lifted on 3/7/2022 and at that time, masks are optional. GSNNJ continues to recommend face coverings for individuals who are unvaccinated. All individuals should be respected for their choice and follow Girl Scout values. GSNNJ recommends that all members carry a mask with them at all times and utilize them in circumstances where another member may not feel comfortable being without masks. Again, if volunteers/leaders would prefer to have their groups masked, they are permitted to put that requirement in place. If the location you are utilizing for meetings or activities has more stringent policies in place than the current GSNNJ guidance, you must follow the location’s policies.

Designate a COVID-19 incident response lead:  Volunteers should be directed to contact a council staff member in the event of a COVID-19 positive test result. Please contact Jessica Hoffman, Chief Operating Officer, at (973) 248-8200 or jhoffman@gsnnj.org for any COVID-19 incident. 

Fill out a GSNNJ COVID-19 Incident Report Form and submit it to Council. 

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.

Council staff, NOT volunteers, will notify parents and others about a positive test result and that the tester’s identity is confidential. The council staff point person responsible to manage COVID-19 positive tester reports will:

  • Record the facts
  • Create a file to keep all information related to the incident together, including emails.
  • Confirm and trace the positive tester
  • Notify the facility or homeowner where a troop has met.
  • Alert the state department of health.
  • Contact the parents of anyone who may have been exposed, or other adult volunteers. Do not share the positive tester’s identity.

Release and Waiver of Liability: COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus that spreads easily through person-to-person contact. As with any social activity, participation in Girl Scouts could present the risk of contracting COVID-19. While GSNNJ takes every safety and preventative precaution, GSNNJ can in no way warrant that COVID-19 infection will not occur through participation in GSNNJ programs.

Food, Dining and Snacks: 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. Continue recommendation for 3 foot spacing during mealtimes.

Restrooms: Be very careful in public 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. 

Quarantine/Isolation: If your child has tested positive or has been exposed and named a close contact, please utilize the quarantine calculator tool to determine the length of quarantine required: Isolation and Quarantine Calculator (nj.gov)

*NOTE: Location-specific COVID Guidelines Information

Morris School District Use

  • When using any Morris School District building everyone needs to be masked regardless of vaccination status.
  • When outside on Morris School District property, if within 3 feet, everyone needs to be masked.
  • When eating any food in addition to being socially-distanced (6 feet apart) everyone should be facing the same direction while eating.
COVID 19 Table 530x
Staying Engaged at Girl Scouts During the Pandemic

Council Program Events and Activities:

  • At Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, we are offering both virtual and in-person events and activities. As circumstances change, we are following the recommendations of the CDC and local health departments to ensure the health and safety of our members. 

Stay engaged:

  • Girls can still participate in Girl Scout activities and even continue to earn badges. Our Girl Scouts at Home web page contains virtual program activities that will help girls explore the four pillars of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience: STEM; outdoors; life skills; and entrepreneurship. You'll find step-by-step instructional packets for Girl Scouts of all levels, as well as other helpful information for families and troop leaders.
  • Please review activity plans found in the Volunteer Toolkit and identify badges girls can work on remotely with materials available in their homes. 
  • Follow Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey on Facebook (@gsnnj) and Instagram (@gsnnj) as well as www.gsnnj.org. We will be posting ways girls and families can stay engaged and active while troops are not meeting. 
How to Talk With Your Girl Scouts About COVID

Be a source of comfort and calm for girls:

  • Girl Scouts of the USA has developed a helpful resource for How to Talk to Your Girl about Coronavirus to help minimize stress and worry in your Girl Scout's life and give her a sense of calm and control.
  • For our Girl Scout Families, here is a link to some resources that may be of help during this challenging time, compiled by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families:  HOTLINES/HELPLINES 

 

Thank you for your help in keeping Girl Scouts a safe, fun space for everyone! If you have any questions about how COVID-19 is impacting Girl Scout activities, please contact Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey at customercare@gsnnj.org or 973-248-8200—we're here for you.
For current information on COVID-19 in GSNNJ’s five county footprint, please visit the State of New Jersey Department of Health.

Note: This information is subject to change based on the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 virus in your respective communities.