August 19, 2021
Dear Girl Scouts, Volunteers, and Family Members,
The health and safety of our members and volunteers, their families, and our staff are of utmost importance. It continues to be vital for all members to “be a sister to every Girl Scout” and support our communities by helping prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We encourage all eligible individuals to become fully vaccinated.
We continue to closely monitor the information regarding COVID-19 shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as GSUSA and national public health officials to inform our decisions. New information is still being reported regularly, so we remain responsive in planning and scheduling, and thank our members and families for their support and flexibility. We must all follow the Girl Scout Promise and Law, and we must be responsible for our own health and for our impact on the health of others. With this in mind, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida has updated guidelines with key updates summarized below. Please also review the COVID-19 Guidance FAQ on our website for more information.
Monitoring Local Guidelines
All troops should monitor local restrictions for gatherings, events, and travel. Restrictions can vary greatly from county to county, and even from town to town, and they frequently change. If the area in which your activity will take place is more restrictive, you must follow the local requirements.
NEW: As of August 19, 2021, masks are highly recommended for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals while indoors except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including those of local business. In addition, all individuals should diligently engage in everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) strongly encourages individuals to receive the vaccine when able, but does not require vaccination for volunteers or members at this time. Deciding to receive a vaccine is a personal decision, and GSGCF encourages our staff and members to respect the privacy of fellow members and their families and should not inquire about their vaccination status. Parents/caregivers may certainly ask about the vaccination status of volunteers, but 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 or member with anyone.
UPDATE: As of July 1, 2021, GSGCF properties may operate at 100% occupancy for day activities and overnight stays as long as social distancing of 3–6 feet is maintained for unvaccinated individuals—at the discretion of all participants involved. All guidelines outlined in Safety Activity Checkpoints must be carefully adhered to in conjunction with CDC, state, and local health guidance and directives. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance if needed.
Troop Camping, Travel, and Overnight Stays and Trip Planning
If your troop is in agreement to travel, and understands the inherent risks, troop camping, travel, and overnight stays are permitted. Troops should continue to practice good hygiene and COVID-19 risk mitigation guidance while traveling. Girls should be involved in all stages of trip/travel planning. Ensure all troop families are in agreement with the type of trip/travel being planned and are prepared to follow council guidelines and requirements imposed by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including those of local business. This includes mask policies.
When arranging travel plans in advance, troops should plan ahead and create contingencies should there be a need to reschedule, cancel, or shift. 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. This decision should be made in a way that puts the safety of our girls first, followed by consideration of financial commitments, deadlines, or other factors.
Consider purchasing travel insurance. If you do, read all fine print to learn if COVID-19 or pandemic-related cancellation is covered, as it is often excluded. Decisions about whether or not to approve troop travel or proceed with planned council-organized travel will be based on health and safety guidance currently available in our jurisdiction, as well as guidance available in the destination jurisdiction.
Lodging/Sleeping Quarter Guidelines
All girls and adults should sleep toe-to-toe rather than head-to-head. If necessary due to the layout of the space, individuals may also sleep head-to-toe. At no time should individuals outside of the same household share a bed. Tents must provide adequate space for social distancing if members are unvaccinated.
UPDATE: As of June 3, 2021, international travel will be reviewed for approval. All guidelines outlined in Safety Activity Checkpoints must be carefully adhered to in conjunction with CDC, state, and local health guidance and directives.
- Avoid situations that require diners to use shared utensils, such as buffets, salad bars, self-service, etc.
- Use “grab-n-go” services or boxed meals in which meals are pre-packaged or assembled on a tray for diners to retrieve.
- Dine outside or in open air facilities whenever possible.
- Sanitize or wash hands before and after all meals and snacks.
- Use gloves when necessary for serving or preparing meals
- NEW: Masks are highly recommended for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals when inside of a motor vehicle
- Keep car windows open, at least slightly, to circulate fresh air.
- Wash hands before and after the trip.
- Avoid eating/drinking while in the vehicle—instead plan meal/snack breaks where members can exit the vehicle and appropriately space themselves out to eat/drink.
- Avoid peak hours.
- Allow extra time to wait and avoid crowded buses, subway cars, or capacity restrictions.
- Space out girls to avoid crowding (but be sure to use the buddy system).
- Consider grade level, age, and maturity level of girls.
- Wear a mask if preferred or required by local ordinance.
- Obtain caregiver permission, and make sure they are aware of your plans.
- Wash hands before and after use of public transportation or have hand sanitizer available for members.
Hygiene and COVID-19 Risk Mitigation
Follow the resources developed by credible public health sources, such as CDC or the local public health department. Share these resources with girls and volunteers and ensure that they are practiced during meetings and activities. Remind girls and volunteers to engage in everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as:
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Wear a mask if unvaccinated to protect yourself and others.
- NEW: Wearing a mask if vaccinated is recommended while indoors to protect yourself and others.
- Maintain 3-6’ social distance.
- 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.
- Members with fever or temperature higher than 98.6 should stay home and must skip the in-person gathering until their temperature is normal. Volunteers, girls, and parents/caregivers 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 Fahrenheit.
Volunteers, girls, and parents/caregivers should not come to the activity if they become sick with COVID-19 symptoms, test positive for COVID-19, or have been in close contact to someone with symptoms or someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
Reporting and Communicating a Positive COVID-19 Test
In the event of a positive COVID-19 test result, the troop leader will submit the COVID-19 Exposure Reporting Form with the roster of all girls and volunteers involved in the activity. A council staff member will send an email to the parent/caregiver of any girl who may have been exposed, to volunteers, and to the facility, maintaining the confidentiality of the individual(s). Girl and volunteer health information is private and strictly confidential. Members should follow the CDC guidelines for quarantine based upon their individual vaccination status.
Acknowledgement of Risk
GSGCF members acknowledge COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus that spreads easily through person-to-person contact in the community. Everyone must take all reasonable precautions to limit exposure for girls, volunteers, families, and the community. As with any social activity, participation in Girl Scouts could present the risk of contracting COVID-19. While Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida takes every safety and preventative precaution, in no way can we guarantee that COVID-19 infection will not occur through participation in Girl Scout program activities.
Although our offices will remain closed to the public until further notice, the mission-critical business of the council will continue, and our staff is available to assist you by phone or email during our regular administrative hours, Tuesday–Friday, 7:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. If we can be of further assistance, please contact customer care at email@example.com, or 800-232-4475.
We ask that you regularly monitor our website, social media, and email for further updates and directives. Please be sure to check your email “spam” boxes as well.
Note: we will keep this page updated as situations change, so please check back if you are looking for the most up-to-date information.
For additional information and resources about COVID-19, we recommend the following:
- CDC website—The CDC is publishing its latest updates, health tips, and country-specific travel information.
- How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus—Tips from the GSUSA Raising Awesome Girls page about how to talk to girls not by avoiding the topic, but by tackling it head-on. Tambien en Español: Cómo Hablar Con Su Niña Sobre El Coronavirus
- Florida COVID-19 Resource Center—Includes links to Florida’s COVID-19 executive orders, Florida Department of Health resources, and more.