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COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

A Step-by-Step Guide to the New Girl Scout Year

The COVID-19 crisis has required Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama (GSSA) to create new member safety guidelines for all programming. We will be adhering to GSUSA, CDC, American Camp Association, and the state of Alabama healthy and safety protocols. GSSA volunteers, members, and community partners are required to adhere to these procedures if leading or participating in any GSSA programming (council, troop, camp, etc.).

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Notice Regarding In-Person Participation

Youth participants and guardians are required to read GSSA's participation acknowledgment prior to participating in any in-person programming. Should you not agree with these terms, it is advised that you do not participate in any GSSA in-person programming.

Volunteers are required to complete GSSA's COVID-19 participation waiver prior to the start of any in-person programming. 

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Requirements for All In-Person Programming Including Troop Meetings

Health Assessment Tool

All participants (youth, volunteers, parents/guardians, and adult members) are required to complete their own Health Assessment prior to any in-person programming, volunteer activity, or training.

COVID-19 Health Assessment screening is required for any in-person gathering 30 minutes prior to the start of the activity. It is recommended for all youth under the age of 18 to have adult supervision when completing the health assessment questionnaire. 

If anyone within your household has symptoms or has known exposure to COVID-19, you should not attend in-person programming.

COVID-19 Health Assessment procedures for in-person volunteer-led programming will follow the following guidelines:

  • All volunteers are required to agree to GSSA's COVID-19 Waiver release on our online event registration and all participants are required to have filled out an adult/girl health history form that has the COVID-19 hold harmless release in it. This is mandatory for all volunteers/parents to complete prior to the start of any in-person activities.  

Health Assessment Questions

If any participant answers Yes to any of the below questions, they should stay home and seek evaluation by their healthcare provider. People of any age with certain medical conditions may have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Visit the Center for Disease Control for the complete list of medical conditions and consider these conditions when making decisions about participation.

  • In the last 24 hours, have you experienced any of the following new symptoms that cannot be attributed to another health condition or specific activity such as physical exercise?
    • Fever Y/N
    • New cough Y/N
    • Shortness of breath Y/N
    • Fatigue Y/N
    • Muscle aches Y/N
    • Any other flu-like symptoms, such as gastrointestinal upset or headaches Y/N
    • New loss of taste or smell Y/N
    • A temperature over 100°F Y/N
    • Have you had contact with any confirmed Covid-19 positive patients in the last 14 days? Y/N
Group Meeting Size

Group Meeting Size

  • All meetings should follow the In-Person Troop Meeting Guidelines.
  • Please follow the state of Alabama health and safety protocols.
  • For large troops and/or events, we recommend:
    • Hosting virtual meetings.
    • Gathering in smaller groups—such as age-level groups, patrols, or groups of participants.
Gathering Requirements

Gathering Requirements

The COVID-19 virus is primarily spread from person to person through respiratory droplets released into the air when talking, coughing, or sneezing. When indoors, you're more likely to inhale these droplets from an infected person, especially if in close contact, because you're sharing more air than you do outdoors. For these reasons, all in-person gatherings will need to be conducted outdoors until further notice, unless the indoor space is large enough where social distancing can be observed. 

  • GSUSA has advised councils to host in-person programming outdoors only; in-home meetings are not permitted at this time.
  • Outdoor meeting/gathering location recommendations: local neighborhood parks with public restroom access, outdoor community centers, etc.
  • If conducting in-person programming, it is important to establish an agreement with parents/guardians on how you will manage symptomatic participants:
    • Option 1: Require all parents/guardians to remain on-site (separate from program activities) during the duration of the meeting/event/program. This option allows for immediate pick-up and does not require isolation area requirements.
    • Option 2: Require parents/guardians to be within a 10-20-minute range for participant pick-up. If using this option, isolation requirements, ratio guidelines, and PPE best practices must be followed and administered by volunteers. Please review the isolation area requirements and risks associated with this option.
  • Host virtual troop meetings.

Social Distancing and Face Covering Requirements:

  • A minimum of six feet of social distance should always be maintained by all program participants. We know that children are social, and interaction is an important part of their development, however, this is critical to protecting against airborne particles.
  • Social distancing should be used to stagger restroom and hand-washing time, rotating between program areas to minimize groups being in the same space at the same time.
  • Participants are required to wear face coverings while participating in all GSSA activities.
  • Leaders are encouraged to have spare masks on hand and can use troop funds to support this effort.
  • Due to medical needs, some participants may not be able to wear face coverings. All efforts should be made to accommodate virtual attendance.
  • Volunteers and staff are permitted to refuse member participation for in-person programming to those who are not wearing a face-covering upon program arrival.
  • Resource: how to handle face coverings.
Travel & Transportation

Transportation (Car-Pooling)

GSSA will maintain a zero transportation policy (no car-pooling) until further notice.

  • Individual parents/guardians drop off and pick up their own children from all in-person meetings and activities. For families who are unable to drop off and pick up their children from in-person meetings, all efforts should be made to accommodate virtual attendance.
  • CDC guidance for rideshares and drivers for hire may be helpful as an additional reference when evaluating motor vehicle transportation: Ride Shares and Drivers for Hire.
  • CDC guidance for transportation may be helpful as an additional reference when evaluating the use of public transit, paratransit services, personal bikes, walking, mobility assistive devices, etc.

Day Trips, Travel, & Overnight Activities

In conjunction with Safety Activity Checkpoints, modified day trips and activities are permitted if attendance is limited to fewer than eight participants and two unrelated adult volunteers and all participants follow transportation guidelines.

  • Outdoor Trips & Activities Only: In conjunction with Safety Activity Checkpoints, follow the Hygiene and COVID-19 Risk Mitigation guidelines.
  • Travel out of state or country is not permitted.
  • Car-pooling is not permitted. Parents/guardians would need to support the drop-off and pick up of all participants.
  • Activity is limited to outdoors only.
  • Overnights are approved by GSSA on a case-by-case basis.
Food, Dining, & Snacks

Food, Dining, and Snacks

  • Ensure participants have washed their hands prior to eating. Always have hand sanitizer available just in case there is nowhere to wash hands.
  • Participants should bring their own food, snacks, condiments, and beverages to eat and drink (bag lunch or dinner).
  • Participants should not share their food or drinks.
  • Volunteers should not be managing the distribution of food, drinks, or snacks at any time.
  • Continue recommendation of at least six feet of spacing during mealtimes.    
  • Additional Resources:
Restrooms

Restrooms

Due to programming being limited to outdoor-only, it is important to ensure there is a public restroom in proximity. Most public restrooms will regulate the number of people using the restroom at the same time, depending on the size.  If there are no posted regulations or signage, ensure participants take appropriate turns to maintain social distancing and that they wear their masks in the restrooms. If automatic flushers and sensory faucets are not available, participants and adults should use tissue or paper towel to open doors and latches and turn off faucets, touching as little as possible with their bare hands. If the restroom is large, participants should use every other stall and avoid using stalls directly next to another occupied stall at the same time.

Hygiene & COVID-19 Risk Mitigation

Hygiene and COVID-19 Risk Mitigation

GSSA is committed to maintaining a safe environment for all members and relies on volunteers to support and follow all sanitation best practices. If providing in-person programming, the following sanitation measures are required:

  • Hand washing facilities and/or hand sanitizer, and no-touch trash cans must be readily available for program participants, and handwashing should occur during the following program times:
    • Before and after meals and snacks (in a separate sink from the food prep sink).
    • After using the restroom.
    • After handling or encountering bodily fluids such as mucus, blood, saliva, or urine.
    • After outdoor play/activities.
    • After handling face coverings.
  • Prior to participants' arrival, volunteers and/or program lead will disinfect frequently touched surfaces (tables, supplies, etc.).
  • Participants are prohibited from sharing equipment or program supplies (computers, markers, glue sticks, etc.) and need individual supplies. When the program is complete, materials should be sanitized with an alcohol-based cleaning agent.
  • Follow the resources developed by credible public health sources such as CDC and your local public health department.
  • Troop funds may be used to purchase cleaning/sanitation supplies.

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 participants and volunteers to greet and end meetings instead (ex: foot taps, eyebrow lift, jazz hands, etc.). Note: Use culturally appropriate messages, materials, and resources.

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.). Gloves are recommended when handling cleaning and disinfection products.

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 (1/3 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.

First-Aid Supplies & Training

First-Aid Supplies

Troop First-Aid supplies should include COVID-19 prevention items including hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol), tissues, disposable face masks, 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. Disposable or no-contact thermometers may be added to supplies if available and not cost-prohibitive, however, parents/guardians should be checking temperatures and allowing their child to join group activities only when temperatures are normal.

First-Aid/CPR Training

Keep skills up to date for any emergency. While in-person training is not available, volunteers can receive on-line training with a council-approved training provider. Those certified in First-Aid via the Red Cross are being offered a provisional 120-day extension for their certification and can access online courses.

COVID-19 Incidents

Identification and Isolation of Sick People

All volunteers must agree to GSSA’s COVID-19 in-person participation guidelines; this is mandatory for all volunteers to complete prior to in-person activities.

  • The current world-wide Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and government-mandated “shelter in place/stay at home” or similar orders in many communities underscore the risks associated with individuals meeting together for community events. It also emphasizes the risks to Girl Scouts and their leaders by allowing Girl Scouts to meet for joint activities. The undersigned understands that exposure to disease-causing organisms, such as COVID-19, and contaminated objects, as well as personal contact with interested parties, including but not limited to other Girl Scouts, Troop leaders, community volunteers, and others, involve a certain degree of risk that could result in illness, permanent disability, or be fatal.
  • When signing this release, you are agreeing to hold-harmless Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama, and its agents, representatives, and volunteers from and against all claims for damages and liability resulting from exposure to disease-causing organisms, such as COVID-19, and contaminated objects, as well as personal contact associated with participating in activities with the Girl Scouts.

If a volunteer and/or participant is exhibiting signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and is unable to leave the program site immediately, the following protocol should be followed:

  • Agreements should be made in advance with parents/guardians regarding how volunteers will manage symptomatic participants. 
  • It is strongly recommended that the parent/guardian should make every accommodation to be able to pick up their child immediately if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Symptomatic volunteers or participants should isolate themselves in a designated isolation area that is removed from but within eyesight and earshot of the program area to maintain the required girl to adult ratio. Examples of appropriate isolation areas: a picnic table, covered shelter, etc.
  • Volunteers should immediately contact the parent/guardian for pick-up.
  • A volunteer should stay with the symptomatic individual until the parent/guardian has arrived and should always wear a face mask/covering. It is advised to stay six feet away unless the participant needs medical attention. If medical attention is required, volunteers should wear gloves, face shields, masks, and gowns. Those choosing to provide in-person programming with parents/guardians, not on-site, are required to have appropriate supplies on hand to provide any required care for a symptomatic participant. Items should be washed/sanitized or disposed of following the use.
  • The symptomatic individual should wear a face mask/covering if able.
  • No one should enter the isolation area except for the assigned volunteer and parent/guardian.
  • If possible, communication should be done via phone or text to address any needs of the symptomatic individual and assist with arrangements to have that person transported to get medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Follow sanitation procedures to deep clean any areas that person may have had contact with and notify all people who were in the area the person had access to that there was a symptomatic individual. See the CDC’s website for more on cleaning and disinfecting community facilities.
  • All parent/guardian(s) should be made aware of the isolation incident upon pick-up.
  • Volunteers should complete and submit an Incident Report Form to GSSA.

Resources: PPE Kits & Supplies PPE Kit Disposable Gown  (please note, troop funds can be used to purchase health & safety supplies).

Reporting COVID-19 Positive Incidents

Reporting and communicating a positive COVID 19 test should be managed by a council staff member. Volunteers should not manage COVID-19 communication responsibilities. In the event of a COVID-19 positive test result, do NOT contact the parents or troop members. Promptly contact a member of GSSA’s Customer Care Team at 800-239-6636 or customercare@girlscoutssa.org. You will be directed to a Leadership Team staff member. They will be responsible for:

  • Incident report.
  • Contact of potentially exposed individuals or parents of youth participants (participants who may have been in contact within two days of the specimen being taken or symptoms experienced).
  • Notifying the facility of the program activity or event.
  • Alerting the State Department of Health.
  • Letting other volunteers know that council staff, NOT volunteers, will notify parents and others about a positive test result and that the individual’s identity is confidential. Girl and volunteer health information is private and strictly confidential and should only be shared on a need to know basis with a council staff member.
  • Council staff will notify local health jurisdiction within 24 hours if there are two or more participants in the same activity who develop confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within a 14-day period.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Virtual Meeting Options

While we cannot endorse or support specific online meeting tools for your use, we are aware of several tools troops and Service Units are using for virtual meetings. See below for a list of free and low-cost tools that could be useful to you. We encourage troop leaders to look at these and alternative options and discuss with parents and girls to determine what the best solution is for your troop’s needs. 

Supporting Your Troop When You Can't Meet in Person

Video and Audio-Conferencing Tools with free versions 

Safety Activity Checkpoints for Virtual Meetings

While all of these options have a free version, please note you may be prompted to consider their upgraded versions for a subscription fee.

  • Zoom - FAQ
    • Note: Meetings durations maximum of 40 minutes in free version
  • Skype - Support
    • Note: Up to 10 participants free
  • Webex – Help Center
    • Note: Limited file and content sharing in free version

Chat and Collaboration Tools with free versions

Additional low-cost tools for collaboration and conferencing to consider if the above options do not meet your group's needs.

GSSA COVID-19 Info

Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama is actively monitoring the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  and the Alabama Department of Public Health so we can respond quickly to any shifts in their recommendations. Based on public health authorities’ current guidance, GSSA has updated our recommendations for Girl Scouts across our council. We will also be taking several actions to support the health and well-being of our girls, members, and the community:

  • All council-led GSSA programming is on for the fall, but this is an ever-changing situation so check out the activities calendar for updates.
  • All volunteer-led activities such as troop meetings can proceed. We recommend that you follow these guidelines
  • Options for virtual meetings are shared above. 
  • All council-led GSSA programming is on for the fall.  Feel free to check out the activities calendar for updates as this is an ever-changing situation. All volunteer-led activities such as troop meetings can proceed. We recommend that you follow these guidelines
  • Camporees or any activities held on camp properties will be handled on a case-by-case basis. This guidance extends to events held on or off Girl Scout property.
  • Our Service Centers ARE OPEN! Our Retail Shops ARE OPEN and will remain open on Wednesdays-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., with the option of curbside delivery. There will be one person at a time limit in the retail shops in order to socially distance. Face coverings are mandated in the cities of Montgomery and Mobile so we do require them in our offices.  Our aim is to also follow the request of the public health authorities and minimize people gathering together.

Staff will still be telecommuting on certain days. Customer Care will continue to be available at customercare@girlscoutssa.org and 1-800-239-6636. 

This is a quickly evolving situation and we will stay in touch with members about any additional changes in public health recommendations and how they affect Girl Scout programming. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we figure out our next steps.

Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

Please follow all of the steps recommended by the CDC (see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html). The same simple steps that prevent the spread of ordinary flu viruses work against COVID-19 and other illnesses:

  • Clean your hands often

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

 

  • Avoid close contact

    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
    • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

 

  • Cover coughs and sneezes

    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
    • Throw used tissues in the trash.
    • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

 

  • Wear a facemask if you are sick

    • If you are sick:  You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
    • If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

 

  • Clean and disinfect

    • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
    • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

Having trouble finding hand sanitizer? Good thing we're Girl Scouts! Try making some at home with this recipe.

Be a Source of Calm and Comfort

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.

Thank you for your help in keeping Girl Scouts a safe, fun space for everyone! If you have questions about how the coronavirus may impact Girl Scout activities, please contact us.

Can My Troop Meet In-Person
  • All council-led GSSA programming is on for the fall, but this is an ever-changing situation so check out the activities calendar for updates.
  • All volunteer-led activities such as troop meetings can proceed. We recommend that you follow these guidelines
  • All council-led GSSA programming is on for the fall.  Feel free to check out the activities calendar for updates as this is an ever-changing situation. All volunteer-led activities such as troop meetings can proceed. We recommend that you follow these guidelines
  • Camporees or any activities held on camp properties will be handled on a case-by-case basis. This guidance extends to events held on or off Girl Scout property.
  • If you aren't comfortable meeting in-person with your Troop, options for virtual meetings are shared in the Virtual Meeting Options Tab. 
Retail and Online Shops

Our Retail Shops ARE OPEN on Wednesdays-Fridays from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., with the option of curbside delivery. There will be one person at a time limit in the retail shops in order to properly socially distance. If using curbside delivery, please give us at least a 2-hour notice. 

Face coverings are mandated by the cities of Montgomery and Mobile. We require them to be on to enter both of our Service Centers. 

If you are placing a PICKUP ORDER, please fill a SHOP ORDER FORM out and email it to our Customer Care Team. We are also still accepting orders through email.

Questions or concerns?

Contact us using this form or call 1(800) 239-6636.
 
Thanks to our friends at Girl Scouts of Western Washington for the setup and assets of this page!