Thank you for your ongoing attention to our council’s communications regarding the ways we are adapting to the Coronavirus situation. Within our large jurisdiction there are varying degrees of impact and we ask for your understanding as we establish guidelines based upon the most up-to-date information and what is in the best interest of our entire council.
The state of Florida, as well as some areas within our council’s jurisdiction, are continuing to experience above-average occurrences and impacts due to the Coronavirus situation. Some local governments, such as counties and cities, have implemented additional ordinances that are specifically related to the impact Coronavirus. Members, volunteers, girls, and families are required to follow these local directives in such areas while participating in Girl Scouting.
Please read our guidelines carefully so CDC guidelines, as well as state and local ordinances, can be followed. We remain hopeful that we can welcome back wider varieties of in-person programs, meetings, and activities, but will only proceed when it is deemed safe to do so.
The following information is current as of the date indicated above and may be shared with volunteers or used when answering questions:
Virtual Troop Meetings: Based on the risks surrounding COVID-19, utilizing virtual tools is the recommended way to keep troops meeting regularly and maintain engagement in the Girl Scout experience. Volunteers should review the Safety Activity Checkpoint for Virtual Troop Meetings.
Troop Meetings in private homes: GSUSA suggests no troop meetings be held in private homes out of concern that there would be greater risk of exposure to other household members. We understand that due to COVID-19, the schools and community locations where troop meetings often take place, may be less available. Troops that wish to have a periodic in-person meeting, must submit a Troop Meeting Change of Location form to ensure accurate records in the event of an accident. Additionally, we recommend the in-person troop meeting in a private home, is held outside, and all safety guidelines must be carefully adhered to in accordance with CDC, state, local health authorities and as outlined council COVID-19 guidance. Volunteers should remind girls that Girl Scouts wear face coverings (masks or face shields) not only to protect themselves but to protect others. We recommend having disposable masks on hand for those who need them. Follow the CDC Guidelines to teach girls how to handle their face coverings so that the coverings are effective. Based on the risks surrounding COVID-19, GSSEF recommends the use of virtual tools to keep troops meeting regularly and maintain engagement in the Girl Scout experience.
Activities, programs and events: Girl Scout one-day activities, including troop meetings, and events sponsored by our council may occur, at the discretion of all participants (and program partners) involved when participants can safely and consistently maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet. Girl-to-adult ratios must be maintained and face coverings (masks or shields) are required for participants. It is strongly recommended groups meet outdoors as opposed to indoors, and only when social distancing can be maintained.
When planning an activity, 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, similar to wipe downs in between uses for equipment at the gym. Make whatever appropriate accommodations that are necessary. For example, bring disposable masks and extra sanitizer or disinfectant wipes if none will be provided for public use at the activity location.
Troop Travel and Applications: GSSEF Volunteer Policies and Procedures require volunteers to secure travel approval using the council’s travel applications. Approval for a troop activity outside of the regular troop meeting is required to ensure member access to the Girl Scout supplemental accident insurance, in the event of accident or injury to a registered member participating in an approved Girl Scout activity. Further, GSSEF Volunteer Policies and Procedures require approval of an activity to utilize troop treasury funds to pay for the costs associated with the activity. Volunteers are required to submit the appropriate travel application for the activity and secure council approval in advance of the activity. Travel applications can be found in the Forms section of www.gssef.org; each form lists instructions for submission, including timelines. In addition, troop leaders must secure parental permission for participation for each individual activity/excursion using the Parent/Guardian Permission Form. Universal or blanket permission forms for multiple activities are not allowed.
Overnight trips (domestic and international) are not permitted at this time; we do not have a definite timeframe as to when we will be able to permit them. Troops are welcome to submit Overnight Troop Travel permission forms to firstname.lastname@example.org, with future travel dates so they can be reviewed at such a time that our council is permitted to process and approve them.
Transportation (car-pooling): Based on the risks surrounding COVID-19, and due to the proximity within a confined space of carpooling and/or public transportation, GSSEF strongly discourages any shared transportation. Individual families should provide required transportation for the girls in their own household.
At this time individual parents should drop off and pick up their own girls from meetings.
CPR and First Aid Certifications: GSUSA sets the requirements for CPR and First Aid trainings in the Safety Activity Checkpoints:
- A general first-aider is an adult volunteer who has taken Girl Scout approved first-aid and CPR training that includes specific instructions for child CPR, as well as AED (Automated External Defibrillator) training.
- Caution: First-aid/CPR training that is available entirely online does not satisfy Girl Scouts’ requirements (Safety Activity Checkpoints 2019, p. 13).
- Our two largest certifying organizations, the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association, have issued CPR and First Aid expiration date extensions and are beginning to resume in-person trainings within our council jurisdiction.
The following information is for volunteers holding a current certificate that has, or will soon expire:
- American Red Cross card-holders: The American Red Cross requires existing certification holders to complete a FREE online extension course. This enables a certificate holder to extend any base level American Red Cross certifications that expire between March 1st - September 30th that were acquired through instructor-led or blended learning classes. Please note that this extension does not apply to Instructor certifications, instructor trainer certifications, online only classes or the recently released provisional certifications. To utilize this extension certificate, it must be presented with the expired certificate. If you are holding an American Red Cross CPR and First Aid certificate please visit their website to complete the requirements to extend your certification expiration date. You will need to provide both the extension certificate and the expired/expiring card with your travel app in order to secure approval of your assigned First-aider.
- American Heart Association card-holders: As previously shared, AHA Provider and Instructor cards that expired in March and April, and those expiring at the end of May and June can renew their card for up to 120 days from the recommended renewal date on their card. In an update, the AHA has indicated that in affected areas with restrictions still in place into July and August, the AHA will allow Training Centers, at their discretion, to consider extending cards that have a “Renew By” date of July or August to no further than October 2020. Because of the size of our jurisdiction and varying local ordinances and restrictions, we as a council will honor any American Heart Association cards that have expired, or will expire through the end of August, until October 31, 2020.
If a certification was issued by an organization not mentioned here, please check with the organization directly to see if they are offering an extension. If they are, please advise our team by contacting email@example.com and provide any additional documentation that will assist us in recording a temporary extension. Again, only the issuing organization can extend a certification, we cannot without their express approval.
For volunteers without a current CPR or First Aid certification/those seeking first-time certification: The American Heart Association in our jurisdiction has resumed in-person classes, with limited availability and small class sizes. Each participant will be provided and work only with their own training mannequin and social distance will be maintained. Volunteers can visit www.cpr.heart.org and enter their zip code to find classes in their area. GSUSA requires both CPR and First Aid certification. These classes are offered separately or through a combined class option at the American Heart Association. GSSEF recommends volunteers select the Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED combined class to fulfill the requirement.
Questions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.