Dear Girl Scouts,
At Girl Scouts, our motto is “be prepared.” The COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) protocols at our council are changing rapidly in response to available information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), city and county health authorities, school districts and other partners. We are working hard to ensure that our decisions and guidance reflect Girl Scouts’ commitment to prevent the spread of coronavirus in our community. I am reaching out today to update you on actions we are taking in response to CDC and other public health guidance, as well as in response to feedback and concerns we are hearing from you: our members, families, volunteers, staff, donors, supporters, and friends.
Guidance for every Girl Scout
We all have a role to play in preventing the spread of coronavirus in our community. In the spirit of the Girl Scout promise and law, we ask every member of our movement to do their part:
- Follow CDC hygiene best practices that include regular hand washing for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, and covering your cough or sneeze.
- Use non-contact forms of greeting instead of physical contact such as shaking hands.
- Keep at least 3 feet of distance between individuals at meetings and events whenever possible.
- Do not attend Girl Scout or other public events if you are ill or believe you have been exposed to a contagious disease like coronavirus.
- Consult your healthcare provider if you (or a member of your family) is at risk for serious illness from COVID-19 before attending a Girl Scout or other public event. Most children and adults under 60 are not at risk of serious illness from coronavirus. However, adults over 60 and those with a compromised immune system or an underlying health condition may be at greater risk.
- Report suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus among Girl Scouts, family members, staff or volunteers by calling our helpline at 1-800-771-1139 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may coordinate with public health officials to notify any persons who may have been exposed.
- Use the resources on our Raising Awesome Girls site with girls who may have questions or concerns about coronavirus.
Girl Scout troop meetings and trainings
Most Girl Scout events are like school events, and we generally will follow school district guidance around school closures and activity restrictions. The CDC and GDPH have not recommended school closures or widespread activity restrictions in our area. At present, girls and volunteers can continue to participate in most Girl Scout events and activities such as troop meetings and local field trips. They can continue to take part in council-sponsored trainings such as Safe Sitter Babysitter Training and New Leader Orientation. Based upon the guidance above, we ask that individuals who are ill or at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 infection not attend council events, meetings or trainings unless cleared by a physician.
Based upon current guidance from the American Camp Association, CDC and GDPH, troop camping, camporees and council-sponsored events at our camp properties are continuing during March. Our camp team is following heightened disinfection protocols at all camp properties. This includes deep cleaning all cabins and other buildings between groups; providing disinfecting wipes to groups to wipe down doorknobs, light switches and other frequently touched surfaces in their cabins during their stay; providing hand sanitation stations throughout camp; and changes to food service such as the use of disposable paper products at all meals. Camp staff are being trained on how to implement protocols to limit the spread of communicable disease at camp.
Individuals and groups with camping reservations in March have the option of coming to camp as scheduled, postponing their event to a later date (based on availability) or cancelling their reservation for a refund. For camp reservations in April and beyond, we will update you on cancellation and/or postponement options at least two weeks prior to your event. Based upon the guidance above, we ask that individuals who are ill or at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 infection not attend camp events unless cleared by a physician.
Large council gatherings
In response to recent CDC guidance that recommends adjusting or postponing large school gatherings, we have made the decision to postpone all large council events through March 31. This impacts Sleepover Under the Stars, previously scheduled for March 21, 2020 at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds. This event has been rescheduled to November 14, 2020, and attendees have the option of attending the rescheduled event or cancelling and requesting a refund. The Second Century Circle Breakfast scheduled for March 24, 2020 has also been postponed. For large events taking place in April and beyond, decisions to postpone or cancel any events will be made at least two weeks prior to the event. For Girl Scout events managed by outside vendors (i.e., Girl Scout Day at Six Flags) please check with the vendors directly regarding cancellations or refunds.
The CDC continues to update recommendations to avoid international travel to certain regions, including China, Korea, Iran, Italy, Hong Kong and Japan. The CDC also recommends avoiding cruise ship travel worldwide, particularly for vulnerable populations. Because the path of coronavirus infection remains uncertain, no international travel, including cruises, will be approved for Girl Scout groups through June 30, 2020. Groups with existing international travel reservations have been informed that these trips are no longer approved by Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. Groups who choose to travel without council authorization will not be covered by Girl Scouts’ insurance and travel at their own risk.
Avoiding domestic, non-essential airline travel is one step that we can all take to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many businesses and nonprofit organizations, including Girl Scouts of the USA and our local council, have restricted airline business travel for employees in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In line with this guidance, no trips requiring domestic plane travel will be approved for Girl Scout groups through June 30, 2020. For domestic travel by car or train outside of our council jurisdiction, approvals will be made on a case-by-case basis through June 30, 2020. Groups who choose to travel without council authorization will not be covered by Girl Scouts’ insurance and travel at their own risk.
Other things to know
- All Badge & Sash stores remain open on a regular schedule.
- The Girl Scout Cookie Program will continue as planned, and cookie cupboards remain open through Saturday, March 14, 2020.
- Girl Scout staff who are ill are being told not to report to work. We are expanding work from home options and more flexible use of sick days and other paid time off where possible.
- Check the council calendar for updates to other activities and events.
Girl Scouts as a force for good
Throughout our history, Girl Scouts have played an important role in helping to keep our country safe. The 1947 Girl Scout Handbook explains: "A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency." During World War II, Girl Scouts tended victory gardens, sold war bonds and collected scrap metal. The work of today’s Girl Scouts is just as essential. Girl Scouts can continue to demonstrate leadership in the fight against coronavirus by teaching proper handwashing and other hygiene practices to their peers. They can learn about how coronavirus is spread and how to protect themselves and share this information with others. Girl Scouts can be a force for good by confronting misinformation about Asian-Americans, who increasingly have been the targets of racist attacks and discrimination.
On behalf of the Girl Scout movement, I want to thank each of you for being part of our collective action to prevent the spread of coronavirus. We will continue to update you on this blog and on the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta’s website.
Yours in Girl Scouting,
Amy S. Dosik
CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta