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Updated COVID-19 Guidelines for Girl Scouts GCNWI Girls and Volunteers

Girl Scouts has never been just about the badges. Or just the troop meetings. It’s always been about the girls. Our girls. That’s why we are shifting our lens in the year ahead to see things through the eyes of girls.

Girls need Girl Scouts. They need to feel connected, valued, empowered, challenged, and heard. That’s all it’s ever been about, and it’s what will get us through the coming months. While we certainly do not have a crystal ball, we do have each other. 

Together, we will build on three basic elements we identified as part of an essential Girl Scout experience: 1) human connection, 2) social-emotional well-being, and 3) fun. 

We urge you to say “yes” to renewing for the 2020-21 membership year so we can strive to ensure that no girl feels left out or alone. 

The Wall Street Journal recently spotlighted new research into how the pandemic is negatively impacting girls’ social and emotional well-being. It’s causing feelings of isolation and loneliness, and we cannot let that happen.

Here's what we are recommending as a reasonable approach to honor our commitment to girls:

  • Meet in small groups outside (using the guidelines below) into the fall. Then shift into virtual space during the colder months. 
  • Right-size everyone’s expectations. Use your time together to connect, socialize and do something fun together. Laugh, explore something new. 
  • Complement your scaled-back troop meetings by directing girls and families to sign up for any of the council-led virtual programs and outdoor opportunities we will be announcing soon. Summer Camp Revamp was a blast; read the stories on our blog!
  • Ask recently graduated Girl Scout alums and experienced volunteers to be guest moderators. Remember, if the girls are laughing and talking, then the experience is a success in their eyes! 
  • Not sure how to lead a virtual troop meeting? We can help! Use trainings in the Learning Portal, and follow our blog for tips and tricks.
  •  Use the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK). More resources have been added—including virtual meeting plans—to make delivering a virtual badge-earning experience easier. Spend less time planning.
  • Focus on a year of giving service to others. Plan to use your troop cookie proceeds to fund acts of kindness that benefit those who need food, books, pet supplies, notes of encouragement, and so much more. Giving service is definitely an essential Girl Scout experience.
  • Be creative, flexible, kind, relaxed, and innovative.  

Revised Safety Guidelines for Small Outdoor Gatherings and Troop Meetings

  • In-person gathering is entirely voluntary. Masks MUST be worn. 
    UPDATED August 11, 2020: Small groups of 15 or fewer girls plus 2 unrelated adult volunteers, at least one of whom is female (following girl-to-adult ratios in Volunteer Essentials) may gather, providing that all safety precautions are observed, including the mandatory wearing of masks. 
  • Those who elect to attend an in-person meeting must review and sign our statement to be retained by the troop leader. Download the agreement »  
  • Guidelines will apply to all GSGCNWI members, regardless of state residency. 
  • Gatherings may take place only in the outdoors with space for social distancing. We encourage troops to meet outdoors into the fall, and consider outdoor hikes and other adventures outdoors even in the winter months. 
  • 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.

Free Curbside Pick-Up Guidelines

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 (see below). Orders can only be placed online at www.shopgirlscouts.com for curbside pick-up shopping experiences on any of these days.

LOCATIONS
Greene Wood, Homewood, Joliet, Merrillville and Vernon Hills

CURBSIDE DATES AND TIMES
SEPTEMBER, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • Monday, Sept. 14 
  • Tuesday, Sept. 22 
  • Wednesday, Sept 30

OCTOBER, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • Thursday, Oct. 8 
  • Monday, Oct. 12 
  • Tuesday, Oct. 20 
  • Wednesday, Oct. 28

NOVEMBER, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • Thursday, Nov. 5 
  • Monday, Nov. 9 
  • Tuesday, Nov. 17 
  • Monday, Nov. 30

DECEMBER, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • Tuesday, Dec. 8 
  • Wednesday, Dec. 16

The following guidelines will be strictly observed for all GCNWI shopping experiences:

  • Curbside pick-up will be by appointment only and on the days and times listed above. Customers will schedule their designated curbside pick-up appointment at the time they place their order online at www.shopgirlscouts.com.
  • Orders MUST be placed online five days prior to the pickup date for the week.
  • We DO NOT have the ability to ring sales for drive up customers.
  • Customers must wear a mask covering their mouth and nose. GCNWI will refuse service if a customer isn’t wearing a mask.
  • Customers will text their name and location to the number provided when they arrive on the day they selected to pick up their order.
  • Customer Care and/or a Retail Specialist will take the customer’s order and put it on a table outside the building. Customers will remain in their vehicle until order has been placed on the table. If there is inclement weather, the order will be placed in the foyer and the customer will be contacted.
  • There will be no inside access to the Gathering Place.
  • Bathrooms are not available to the public.

For questions regarding our curbside pick-up shopping experience, visit the shop website to read their Frequently Asked Questions, contact GCNWI’s Customer Care Team at 855-456-8347 or customercare@girlscoutsni.org.

Additional Information

Girl Scouts GCNWI Gathering Places remain closed, and staff is working remotely.

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana cares deeply about the health and safety of our Girl Scout members and families.

These guidelines honor requests to meet in person and host cookie booths while respecting the necessity of keeping girls and volunteers as safe as possible. 

COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus that spreads easily in the community. Our recommendations require everyone to take all reasonable precautions to limit potential exposure for girls, volunteers, and families.

Should any conditions change, these sets of guidelines will be adjusted to reflect new information or changes noted by federal or state health agencies. All current guidelines will be posted and updated as necessary on our website, and alerts will be sent to member families via email. 

Focus on Safety First

Please follow all recommended precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19

  • 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 98.6 should skip the in-person gathering until their temperature is normal.

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. 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 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. 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 (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

  • Girl Scouts 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.
Meeting Logistics and Considerations

A maximum of 17 people (15 girls and two (2) unrelated adult volunteers) may meet in person.

If you have a large troop, there are options to consider

  • Host only virtual troop meetings for now (see below).
  • Break the larger troop into smaller subgroups—such as age-level groups, patrols, or groups of girls with a specific badge they’d like to work on – always with two unrelated adults present.

Meeting Space

  • Currently, troops or groups may only meet outdoors where social distancing can be maintained. In the event of inclement weather, meeting should be rescheduled.
  • For meetings held at public facilities, contact the facility ahead of time to check space availability and cleaning protocols.

Transportation

  • Individual parents/guardians should drop off and pick up their own girls from meetings.
  • Carpooling and public transportation should be avoided, where possible, to maintain social distancing.

Day Trips and Activities

  • Follow Safety Activity Checkpoints, including all recommendations in this document.
  • Activities should be outdoors.
  • 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

  • Overnight trips and travel are not permitted at this time. 
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 for now.

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

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 a Girl Scout gathering receives a COVID-19 positive test result, we respectfully request that the individual contact the council directly. 

We will protect the identity and confidentiality of any individual with a positive test result while notifying others who may have had exposure to that individual. To report a situation, please contact Patty Fay, Chief of Staff, at pfay@girlscoutsgcnwi.org or 312-912-6344.


If you have questions about the above guidelines please reach out to customercare@girlscoutsgcnwi.org.


Cookie Booths

The NEW Cookie Season starts January 1, 2021

Please note these are subject to change in coordination with the CDC recommended guidelines.

If you, your co-leaders, the girls and their parents are ready to get out to a booth site, all safety precautions must be followed.

Think “out of the box” when choosing a booth site during COVID-19.  Where are people who are going out actually going? To grocery stores, car washes, where else? Try to secure a site that is well populated. If any location needs a Certificate of Insurance, please connect with CJ at cjones@girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Guidelines

All Girl Scouts and volunteers are expected to follow the guidelines below when participating in these efforts to close out our 2020 cookie program.

Basics
  • All parents and guardians must approve if their child goes to a cookie booth.  
  • Girls should wear Girl Scout apparel or display their Girl Scout pins.
  • You must remain at your booth site the entire duration of the hours you signed up for, or until you sell out of cookies.
  • Arrive no more than 10 minutes before your scheduled time. The troop before you is scheduled until the end of their time slot. You cannot sell cookies before the beginning of your time slot. Manage the transition with the previous troop smoothly, keeping social distancing in the forefront.
  • If the troop following you has not shown up, you may continue to sell until they arrive.
  • Consider donating a box of cookies as a courtesy to the business that agreed to host your booth.
  • At the end of your shift, quietly pack up all items, clean up, take all your trash with you, and leave the area cleaner than you found it.
  • If you are the last booth slot, please leave on time.
  • If you must cancel, contact Conchetta Jones at 708-658-2331.
What to Bring to Your Booth
  • Table, chairs if needed/allowed by the store that gave you permission to sell.
  • Popular Girl Scout cookie varieties (i.e. Thin Mints, Samoas) are a MUST!  
  • Cash box/bag with enough cash to make change
  • Card reader
  • PPE includes hand sanitizer, masks for all, gloves if desired.  Keep social distancing in mind.
  • Posters (large enough for passers-by to see from a distance.) Anyone holding a poster should be with/near an adult and should not be on the street or curbside.  Safety first.
  • Pop-up tent optional. (The tent should attract people…large lettered posters on the tent would be a plus!)
Safety Precautions
  • Social distancing is required.
  • Create a boundary in front of table to maintain social distancing from customers.
  • Do not hand out samples at your booth.
  • Girls/adults should eat and drink away from the booth site. No food or drink should be on the booth site display.
  • No smoking by adults/girls anywhere near the cookie booth.
  • Bling your booth! Include posters, cookie costumes, music.
  • Think about accepting credit cards and display a sign stating, “We accept credit cards!”
  • Consider the possibility that rest rooms may not be available for the duration of your cookie booth. In the event there are restrooms, girls should use the buddy system when visiting the restroom. All safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 should be followed.
Security
  • Cookie booths should be attended by two adults and two girls. Additional girls and adults can be present to guide customers to the booth, up to a maximum of 6 people total.
    • Note: Girls do not need to be present at a cookie booth during our reboot. Booths can be attended by adults only during COVID-19.
  • For the well-being of the girls, only adults should be handling money or credit card transactions during COVID-19.
  • Use caution as booths may be set up in a parking lot.
    • Cookie booth locations can utilize additional girls/adults to guide traffic to the booth location. As an example, girls can hold posters at a street corner to advertise their cookie booth (an adult must also be present and think safety.)
  • Girls should stay close to their booth with no running around.
  • Take away all garbage and cookie cases when you leave your site. Remember, Girl Scouts always leave a place cleaner than they found it!
  • If confronted by an angry or upset individual, do not engage in debate. Refer the individual to the product program team at 855-ILOVEGS, ext. 6722 or productprogram@girlscoutsgcnwi.org. If you feel threatened, call 911.
  • Remember, we are all responsible for the reputation of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. Protect that reputation and our relationships with the businesses that support us with booth site opportunities by treating people and places with respect and following all safety protocols.


If you have questions about the cookie booths, please reach out to our Product Program team directly at productprogram@girlscoutsgcnwi.org.