Guidelines for In-Person Troop Meetings
Troops can meet virtually or in-person outdoors. Use these
guidelines and reminders to help you decide how and when to return to
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.
Note: GSUSA strongly recommends resuming normal in-person activities only after your state and county have successfully passed its final phase of the re-opening process.
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 in-person troop meetings and activities, all participants should be screened to ensure they are healthy and that they have had not experienced symptoms that are associated with COVID-19 in the previous 72 hours, that they have not knowingly been in contact with someone that has exhibited symptoms or has been confirmed positive with COVID-19 and that they have not been to high risk geographical regions particularly those regions that require a 10-day quarantine period.
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.
- Indoor gatherings must be limited to 50 people. All attendees at indoor gatherings must wear face coverings and stay three feet apart. – If all girls/adults are fully vaccinated, they no longer need to wear a face mask or stay 3 feet apart.
- Outdoor gatherings – all capacity restrictions have been lifted. All attendees at outdoor gatherings do not need to wear face covering if more than 3 feet apart. Face coverings are needed if less than 3 feet apart. – If all girls/adults are fully vaccinated, they no longer need to wear a face mask or stay 3 feet apart.
- In-home meetings: The recommendation is to stay away from
in-home meetings for the time being. Please see section below for
front or back yard in-home meetings.
- 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 and the on the ready, should a second wave occur or shelter in place restrictions resume. For more information on how to plan a great virtual meeting: Tips, Tools, and Ideas for Planning a Great Virtual Meeting
- Meetings may not be held in fitness centers
or gyms because the atmosphere in sports facilities is aerosolizing,
making them a higher risk for contracting virus.
- 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.
In-Home Troop Meetings in the front or back yard: The general recommendation is to stay away from any type of in-home meetings. However, due to the current COVID-19 risk restricting public meeting options, this may be the only option for some troops. 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
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.
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 and the on
the ready, should a second wave occur or shelter in place restrictions
resume. Click on link for more info: How to plan a great virtual
- Meetings may not be held in fitness centers or gyms because the atmosphere in sports facilities is aerosolizing making them a higher risk for contracting virus.
- Singing: 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.
Troop Meeting Space: Outdoor spaces where social distancing can be maintained are strongly recommended for meetings when the weather permits. 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)?
Length of Meetings: Consider Keeping meetings relatively short.
Troop Day Trips: Simple, outdoor day trips are permitted following Safety-Activity Checkpoints and GSNNJ Covid-19 guidelines. (Examples: parks, outdoor ice cream) All other day trips are subject to approval.
Travel and overnight stays: Overnight trips are not permitted until after the home state, county, town or region is successfully past its final phase of re-opening.
Transportation (car-pooling): 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.
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: Volunteers/girls must wear face coverings
(masks) not only to protect themselves but to protect others at
all times. 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
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 GSNNJ for guidance on how best to handle these exceptional circumstances as they arise.
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 Betty Garger, President/CEO, (973) 906-0110, firstname.lastname@example.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 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.