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COVID-19 Guidelines

For Girls and Volunteers of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana


Updated June 1, 2021

Significant changes include changes to:

  • Clarifying guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals
  • Group size
  • Trip and Travel

Note: We are continuously monitoring the CDC youth camp guidelines. We do not anticipate significant changes to our camp COVID-19 guidelines.  Click here for the most recent GCNWI summer COVID-19 guidelines.

Our council covers a wide geographic area across Illinois and Indiana with varied COVID-19 restrictions throughout. All participants, regardless of vaccination status, are to follow federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business, workplace and council guidance.

In addition to these COVID-19 ordinances, it is important to consider your own personal situation and the risk to you, your family, your community, and the troop members before venturing out. Three factors to assess are:

  1. Vaccination rates for participants
  2. Medical risk factors for COVID-19
  3. Local COVID-19 rates for the community/destination.

For the most up-to-date COVID-19 guidance, visit State of Illinois COVID-19 Response and State of Indiana Department of Health to determine your area’s phase or advisory level, and refer to the chart below for additional council guidelines.

Currently, individuals ages 12 and over are eligible for vaccines. An individual is considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after the 2nd shot of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccinations, or 2 weeks after the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen 1-shot vaccination. Unless otherwise noted, the council guidelines listed below are for all participants, regardless of vaccination status. You are allowed to ask individuals ages 18 and over for their vaccination status. For individuals ages 12-17, you would need to ask the individual’s parents/guardians. For situations where you are unsure of vaccination status, it is recommended to follow the guidelines for participants who are not fully vaccinated.

Click here for a PDF version of the above table.

* Face masks should fit snugly over the nose, mouth and chin. See the  CDC website  for recommendations on fit and adding layers of material.

Safety Guidelines for In-Person Meetings
  • In-person gathering is entirely voluntary.
  • Groups that include individuals who are not fully vaccinated must wear a face covering (mask) on the nose and mouth at all times. Double masks are recommended.
  • All attendees must complete a self-screening assessment (below) prior to meeting.
  • Please review the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advisory for adults 65 years of age and older and those with underlying medical conditions before voluntarily deciding to participate in any in-person gathering.

Group Size

  • Group size includes the required number of adults pursuant to Safety Activity Checkpoints.
  • Group size depends on the current phase or advisory level where the meeting is taking place.
    • In general, group sizes can be larger if gathering outside.
    • Groups meeting indoors at a public space, like a community center, should follow the capacity as stated by the venue.
    • If meeting inside a home or private residence, the group size should be such that 6 feet can be comfortably maintained among all participants and any additional residents.

Additional Recommended Precautions 

  • 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.

No Personal Contact Allowed

  • Hugs, handshakes, “high-fives,” and even activities like the friendship circle or squeeze can transmit COVID-19 from person to person. For groups that contain individuals who are not fully vaccinated, refrain from these gestures for the time being. 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 such as 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. Make sure that the trash baskets (or bags) are easily accessible for girls.
  • Disposable or no-contact thermometers may be added to supplies if available and not cost-prohibitive. However, parents should be checking temperatures and allowing their girl(s) to join group activities only when temperatures are normal.

First Aid/CPR Training

  • Keep skills up-to-date for any emergency, as required.

Disinfectants and Disinfecting

  • Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched (e.g., 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

  • Groups that include individuals who are not fully vaccinated must wear face coverings (masks) to protect themselves and to protect others.
  • 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 teach girls 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 GSGCNWI at customercare@girlscoutsgcnwi.org for guidance on how best to handle exceptional circumstances as they arise.
Self-Screening Assessment

Prior to in-person troop meetings and activities, all participants must perform a self-health assessment, answering the following questions:

  1. For individuals who are not fully vaccinated: In the past two weeks, have you been in close physical contact (6 feet or closer for a cumulative total of 15 minutes) with:
    • Someone who is known to have laboratory-confirmed COVID-19?
    • Someone who has any symptoms consistent with COVID-19?
  2. Are you isolating or quarantining because you may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 or are worried that you may be sick with COVID-19?
  3. Are you waiting on the results of a COVID-19 test?
  4. In the past 48 hours, have you experienced any of the following symptoms:
    • Fever or chills?
    • Cough?
    • Congestion or runny nose?
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing?
    • Fatigue?
    • Sore throat?
    • Muscle aches or body aches?
    • Headache?
    • Nausea or vomiting?
    • Diarrhea?
    • New loss of taste or smell?

Individuals answering yes to any questions must stay home and should contact their personal healthcare provider for further evaluation.

Meeting Location

Meeting Location

  • Outdoor meetings are encouraged to reduce safety risks. Indoor meetings that include participants who are not fully vaccinated are allowed but are discouraged due to the additional safety risk. Indoor meetings should have adequate ventilation and cleaning procedures in place. All gatherings must have space for social distancing.
  • Meetings at a home are never recommended out of concern of greater risk of exposure to other family members and other safety risks. Use only if all other options have been exhausted. Pre-approval is required. Among other requirements, council approval requires proof of homeowner’s insurance. Approval requirements are below. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Requirements for Approval of Meetings at a Home

Registered/Background Checked Member

Homeowner must be a registered, background-checked volunteer.

Proof of Insurance

Proof must be provided that the homeowner maintains a minimum of $100,000 of Homeowner’s Liability coverage. The declaration page of the homeowner’s insurance coverage serves as proof of coverage.

Please note: Homeowners must be aware of the risk the homeowner is assuming. Generally, the homeowner’s insurance is the primary insurance coverage. The council’s general liability insurance is secondary.

Safety Precautions

The homeowner must agree to the following precautions to make the meeting area as safe as possible.  

Properly secure/prevent access by girls to:

  • Pets
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Firearms and weapons
  • Pornographic materials, including access to family computing devices (e.g. laptops and tablets) that could be used to access such materials
  • Prescription and non-prescription medicine
  • Other legal and illegal drugs
  • Trampolines
  • Pool areas, unless swimming activities take place with a certified lifeguard in attendance 
  • Chemical cleaning solutions 
  • Tools and power equipment  
  • Busy streets

Take precautions to prevent physical and sexual harm. 

  • Girls may not meet at a home where a registered sex offender lives.
  • Girls must not be left alone. Use the buddy system in a socially distant manner. 
  • Plan short meetings to avoid the need for access to a bathroom inside the home.

Maintain a safe physical space. 

  • The lighting system must illuminate entrances, walkways, and parking areas. 
  • Sidewalks and exterior stairs must be clear of debris, snow and ice at all times. 
  • Steps must be clear of trip and fall hazards. 
  • Stairs must have handrails and railings, both of which must be secure. 
  • Extension cords must be tucked away so that they will not be walked on or trip someone.
  • Electrical outlets must be protected with covers.

To request permission to hold a meeting at a home, send an email to customercare@girlscoutsgcnwi.org. with the name of the troop or other group planning to meet at a home, the homeowner’s name, address of the property and proof of insurance.

Reporting a Positive COVID 19 Test

All girl and volunteer health information is private and strictly confidential. 

In the event that a person who attends an in-person Girl Scout gathering receives a COVID-19 positive test result, we ask that the individual contact the volunteer in charge of the gathering (e.g. troop leader, or Service Unit Manager) directly.  The volunteer in charge should notify others who may have had exposure to the individual.

Volunteers must protect the identity and confidentiality of any individual with a positive test result while notifying others who may have been exposed to that individual. All health information is private/confidential to be shared only on a need to know basis.

Transportation

Carpooling and public transportation should be avoided, where possible to maintain social distancing. If carpooling includes riders who are not fully vaccinated, space out the riders to avoid crowding, require masks and keep the windows partially open to provide ventilation. Consider if riders live with an immune compromised person that they can put at risk. If so, make other transportation arrangements.

Day Trips and Travel

Day Trips and Activities

  • Follow Safety Activity Checkpoints, including all recommendations in this these guidelines.
  • Call ahead to the facility or vendor to confirm that they are following CDC and state health department guidelines.
  • If activity or sporting equipment is being provided, ask the provider if they wipe down equipment in between uses.
  • Make whatever appropriate accommodations that are necessary. For example, bring extra sanitizer if none will be provided for public use at the activity location.

Travel and Overnight Stays

  • Safety of our girls and members is our highest priority.
  • Trips that include only fully vaccinated participants -- Travel and overnight trips that include only girls and adults who have been fully vaccinated are permitted. Fully vaccinated means at least 2 weeks after the second shot of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccinations, or at least 2 weeks after the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen 1-shot vaccination. Plan accordingly to allow time for full vaccination.   
  • Trips that include unvaccinated individuals -- Girls and adults who are not fully vaccinated are discouraged from overnight trips and travel except in limited exceptions that take into consideration the destination, sleeping arrangements and family member attendance. For example, travel may be approved to destinations that comply with CDC or American Camp Association (ACA) COVID-19 recommendations or include sleeping arrangements with family members only.
  • Troop and family camping opportunities are available on council properties.
  • Troops are encouraged to participate in outdoor activities as much as possible when in-person, including trips. If attending a non-council camp, stay at a location that complies with CDC or ACA COVID-19 recommendations.
  • International travel involves a much higher degree of risk to participants and to the success of the trip. For all international travel, pay close attention to the situation at the international destination. All participants must be aware of the risks and families must make their own decision about participation. Check for current CDC requirements for all air passengers arriving in the U.S (e.g. proof of negative COVID-19 testing or recovery from COVID-19), which may require additional planning to ensure re-entry.
  • All travel and overnight stays must be approved by the usual Trip and Travel process.
Virtual Meetings and Activities

Meeting options may need to be flexible based on the fluid nature of COVID-19 risk. Troops may wish to continue to host online meetings or host a combination of virtual and in-person engagement.

Visit Girl Scouts from Home for resources, guidelines and a link to Safety Activity Checkpoints for Virtual Meetings to guide your meeting plans.

Summer Camp

Girl Scouts GCNWI takes the health and safety of all campers, volunteers, and staff very seriously. Reference the linked document below for the most up to date processes, procedures, and information for summer 2021. Please note: this is a living document and may be updated many times before, and possibly during, the summer. Along with these processes and procedures, GCNWI camps and properties will be following all processes and procedures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), American Camp Association (ACA), and state, local, and federal government.

GSGCNWI Summer Camp 2021 and COVID-19 Resource


Free Curbside Pick-Up Guidelines

For the convenience of our customers, orders can be placed online at shop.girlscoutsgcnwi.org. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Gathering Place shops will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for curbside pick-up ONLY on select days. Please check here for location, date and pickup time and COVID-19 guidelines.