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COVID-19 Updates

UPDATED 11/1/2021

Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest (GSDSW) strongly encourages troops and service units to work together to ensure the continued safety and well-being of Girl Scouts, volunteers, and families.

Recognizing that our council spans many jurisdictions with varying COVID-related restrictions, GSDSW troops and groups may choose to hold in-person meetings provided all participants, volunteers, and parents/caregivers of all girl participants receive and agree to follow the guidelines below.

As COVID-19 precautions are changing across the counties and states, Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest will continue to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Girl Scouts of the USA.

Given the recent increase in COVID-19 cases and the highly transmissible Delta variant, GSDSW recommends following CDC and local guidelines to help prevent the spread of the disease. CDC guidelines suggest mask-wearing for all indoor, in-person activities. Social distancing is encouraged. Leaders should gauge participant comfort level when planning events and activities.

Masks

Masks are required at GSDSW facilities unless specified. Members must follow the recommended and required mask and safety guidelines of vendors when participating in vendor programming.

Indoor Requirements:

Groups should continue to wear masks and social distance when gathering with individuals indoors. When girls are present masks are always required except when actively eating and drinking.

When girls are not present and you are fully vaccinated, you are no longer required to wear a mask inside unless the establishment requires wearing masks. If you are not fully vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of the COVID virus.

Outdoor Requirements:

Outside, at least 6 feet apart, masks are not required unless required by local restrictions. If you can’t stay at least 6 feet apart from people who don’t live with you, wear your mask.

GSDSW Service Centers, Stores, & Facilities

GSDSW facilities are currently open. Masks or face coverings are required inside all GSDSW stores, service centers, facilities, and camps while indoors. See outdoor requiremens under Masks.

GSDSW stores have curbside pick-up and is available for all customers. For details, email retail@gsdsw.org. Some service center meeting rooms are now available for booking by emailing info@gsdsw.org

The majority of GSDSW staff members continue to work remotely at this time.

Scout House and Service Center Reservations

Troops can reserve the Girl Scout facilities for meetings provided all guidelines are followed:

New Mexico:

Alamogordo - 1012 Oregon Ave, Alamogordo, NM 88310 – available for rental

Carlsbad - 409 S. Alameda, Carlsbad, NM 88220 – not open for rental at this time

Deming - 721 S. Granite, Deming, NM 88030 – available for rental

Hobbs - 522 E. Broadway, Hobbs, NM 88240 – available for rental

Las Cruces - 225 E. Idaho, Ste. 9, Las Cruces, NM 88005 – available for rental

Roswell - 13078 E. College St., Roswell, NM 88201 – not open for rental at this time

Silver City - 302 W. 11th St., Silver City, NM 88061 – available for rental

Texas:

El Paso - 9700 Girl Scout Way, El Paso, TX 79924 – not open for indoor rental at this time

Midland - 901 W. Dengar Ave., Midland, TX. 79705 – available for rental

Odessa - 5217 N. Dixie Blvd., Odessa, TX 79762 – available for rental

In-Person Activity Size & Location

While there are no group size restrictions*, it is recommended to keep small group sizes for in-person activities and to hold activities outdoors whenever possible.

*Note: Many GSDSW program and camp opportunities may continue to have smaller group sizes to allow for program quality, physical distancing, facility capacity, and staffing.

In addition to or if stricter than these guidelines, participants should follow any specific rules of the in-person activity location.

Drive-in and drive-thru events are permitted. These events do not require approval unless they are the type of activity that requires an activity approval anyhow, such as a money-earning activity

Pre-Screening, Permission, & Paperwork

When deciding whether to host an in-person activity, please consider the make-up and size of your troop or SU, including possible attendees, their families, and their current comfort level. We want to do our best to make sure all Girl Scouts feel included and safe through their Girl Scout experience.

If a girl, parent/caregiver, or volunteer is showing:

  • any new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19
  • has been in close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 within the past 14 days (excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months), 
  • is awaiting COVID-19 test results, 
  • or has tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 10 days, 

they are not permitted to attend in-person activities.

Each parent/caregiver/volunteer must complete the GSDSW COVID-19 Pre-Screening Form (Word)(PDF) before each in-person activity or upon arrival. These responses should be kept for 30 days after the activity, along with a roster of everyone who attended. Volunteers may collect the pre-screening form information through email or an online survey using the same language on the form. Potential attendees who answer yes to any of the questions should not attend the in-person Girl Scout activity.

Note: If someone from the event tests positive for Covid-19 during or after, copies of all waivers and forms should be send to info@gsdsw.org.

Safety information and any additional activity protocols should be provided to all participants before the in-person activity takes place. Additionally, proper permission forms should be collected, including:

  • Troops should have a GSDSW Permission Form for each member for general troop activities. 
  • For overnight activities, all participants or parents/caregivers must submit the GSDSW COVID Waiver form before attending. A copy of this form will be sent to the troop leader email address provided on the form.
Physical Distancing, Masks, & General Health Protocols

During the activity, participants should maintain a physical distancing of 6 feet between members of different households.

Masks are required at GSDSW facilities unless specified. Members must follow the recommended and required mask and safety guidelines of vendors when participating in vendor programming.

Indoor Requirements:

Groups should continue to wear masks and social distance when gathering with individuals indoors. When girls are present masks are always required except when actively eating and drinking.

When girls are not present and you are fully vaccinated, you are no longer required to wear a mask inside unless the establishment requires wearing masks. If you are not fully vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of the COVID virus.

Outdoor Requirements:

Outside, at least 6 feet apart, masks are not required unless required by local restrictions. If you can’t stay at least 6 feet apart from people who don’t live with you, wear your mask

Other measures such as hand hygiene, cleanliness, sanitizing, and reduction of shared supplies are recommended.

In addition to or if stricter than these guidelines, participants should follow any specific rules of the in-person activity location.

Food Safety

Before preparing food or eating, have all girls and adults wash or sanitize their hands. Masks must be worn when serving food.

Participants should still maintain physical distancing of 6 feet between members of different households while eating.

Individually wrapped items are recommended. If providing ingredients or bulk food, it should be pre-packaged individually ahead of time in a sanitized environment.

If serving food family-style, it's recommended to have one adult wearing a mask and food preparation gloves serve everyone on to clean plates. Use disposable plates, forks, napkins, etc. when possible. Do not serve food buffet style, meaning participants serve themselves from a common source using shared utensils.

Transportation

Members may carpool with other members outside of their family following these guidelines:

  • The personal situation of each girl should be factored into any decisions about carpooling- if a girl lives with a high-risk individual, carpooling may not be appropriate. Each parent/caregiver is responsible for making the best decision for their child in each situation.
  • All girls and adults must wear masks when inside of the vehicle.
  • Keep car windows open, at least partially, to circulate fresh air when possible or do not put "recirculate" on the car controls.
  • If carpooling, each parent/caregiver/volunteer must complete the GSDSW COVID-19 Pre-Screening Form (Word)(PDF) before traveling with other Girl Scout members outside their family to the in-person Girl Scout activity.

If members choose to use public transportation, any guidelines regarding public transportation, such as masks, must be followed.

Travel & Overnights

Troop and group travel will be considered on a case-by-case basis, factoring in the risk associated with the specific type of travel being requested. All troops must take applicable trip and travel training in gsLearn before submitting a request for all troop trips and/or trips outside of our council area.

Check the CDC Domestic Travel Guidance details about various types of travel, risk factors and steps to mitigate risk. See also the Girl Scout Guide to U.S. Travel for additional guidance on troop trips.

Domestic and international travel is permitted as long as the destination allows visitors from the home country/state/county/city. Groups should check the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories for intended international destinations. Groups will need to demonstrate that the destination permits visitors.

COVID-19 is a fluid situation. Groups accept the risks of cancellations due to changes in the destination travel status.

For planned international travel, continue to monitor all guidance from the CDC and Department of State. You can register a planned trip with the Department of State to receive updates when advisories change. You can also check COVID trends over time for select countries by checking the Council on International Exchange’s (CIEE) Health Risk Index Report.

Requirements

  • Submit a Travel Application to GSDSW at least three weeks prior for Basic Trips (up to two nights away) Basic Trip Application.
  • Submit a Travel Application to GSDSW at least six weeks prior to Extended Trips (three nights or more away) Extended Trip Application.
  • Must follow guidance in Safety Activity Checkpoints.
  • If the troop feels the need to bring a parent for each girl, troop funds may be used for up to one adult per family.
  • All parents/adults attending Girl Scout troop trips must be registered and background checked.
  • Purchase travel insurance if tag-a-longs (younger siblings) are attending the trip. Be sure to read all the fine print and ask questions to ensure COVID or pandemic-related cancellation is covered.

  Mutual of Omaha enrollment form with instruction to complete and send it to info@gsdsw.org.

  • Enrollment Plan 2 covers accident insurance for activities or events
  • Enrollment Plan 3E and 3P covers accident and sickness for activities or events
  • Enrollment Plan 3PI – international plan

Safety information and any additional activity protocols should be provided to all participants before the trip takes place. Additionally, proper permission forms should be collected, including:

  • All participants or parents/caregivers must submit the GSDSW COVID Waiver form before attending. A copy of this form will be sent to the troop leader email address provided on the form.
  • Each parent/caregiver/volunteer must complete the GSDSW COVID-19 Pre-Screening Form (Word)(PDF) just before the trip. These responses should be kept for 30 days after the activity, along with a roster of everyone who attended. Volunteers may collect the pre-screening form information through email or an online survey using the same language on the form. Potential attendees who answer yes to any of the questions should not attend the in-person Girl Scout trip.

During overnight activities, masks are not required when engaged in eating, drinking, bathing, etc. but the timing of these activities should be staggered to allow for physical distancing. Physical distancing guidelines should also be followed as much as possible within the sleeping area.

Camping

GSDSW members may now camp in both family and troop camp settings following the in-person guidance above.

At least one volunteer must have the appropriate GSDSW camp certification training. For camping at GSDSW and non-GSSDW properties, that means Outdoor Training.

During overnight activities, masks are not required when engaged in actively eating and drinking, bathing, etc. but the timing of these activities should be staggered to allow for physical distancing. Physical distancing guidelines should also be followed as much as possible within the sleeping area.

GSDSW camp properties will have certain limits on cabin sizes, groups, etc. based on the specific layout and safety needs of each facility. Additionally, camp staff will be following camp-specific protocols such as daily screenings including temperature checks while members are on property.

Non-GSDSW Facilities

Volunteers planning camping activities at non-GSDSW facilities receive council approval before planning.

Safety information and any additional activity protocols should be provided to all participants before the camping trip takes place. Additionally, proper permission forms should be collected, including:

  • All participants or parents/caregivers must submit the GSDSW COVID Waiver form. A copy of this form will be sent to the troop leader email address provided on the form.
  • Each parent/caregiver/volunteer should complete the GSDSW COVID-19 Pre-Screening Form (Word)(PDF) just before the camping trip. These responses should be kept for 30 days after the activity, along with a roster of everyone who attended. Volunteers may collect the pre-screening form information through email or an online survey using the same language on the form. Potential attendees who answer yes to any of the questions should not attend the in-person Girl Scout camping trip.
Activity Approvals

Due to ongoing changes in protocols, trip and events requests will be subject to the current guidelines GSDSW has in place at the time of submission. If those guidelines change after approval is given to where more is permitted, volunteers may resubmit for approval provided those updates. If they change to where approved events are not able to take place, GSDSW will contact the submitting volunteer as soon as possible.

To allow time for review, please submit approval forms at least 4 weeks in advance and allow 5 business days for processing. After completing the request, you will either receive an automatic approval via email or will be notified that your request needs further review before approval can be given.

Volunteers must receive council approval before planning the following activities:

COVID-19 Positive Test Results

In the event that someone who has attended a GSDSW in-person activity within the past 14 days receives a COVID-19 positive test result, promptly contact Patty Craven at 559-284-3795 or Teresa King at 559-824-8044.

  • Provide all details known, including a full list of all attendees who participated in the Girl Scout activity to the best of your knowledge.
  • Remember that girl and volunteer health information is private and should be only shared on a need-to-know basis with a GSDSW staff member.
  • Please do not share this information with other volunteers, parents, or troop members. If other volunteers have already been informed, let them know that council staff will notify parents and others about a positive test result and that the tester’s identity is confidential.
  • Only staff members are allowed to notify attendees about a positive test. Volunteers are not permitted to make these notifications.

Following notification, a GSDSW staff member will:

  • Confirm the positive test with the individual or parent of the girl, as needed.
  • Notify via email and phone call any volunteers or parents of any girls who had direct contact with individual who tested positive. The staff member will provide as much information as possible while maintaining privacy. We recommend following CDC guidelines, including staying home and self-quarantining while watching for COVID-19 related symptoms, seeking testing, and getting medical care if necessary. In-person troop or SU activities will also be suspended for 14 days, as appropriate.
  • Notify the facility where the in-person meeting was held, if applicable.
  • Once all families have been contacted by phone and email, all staff members involved or those who support that SU or troop, and the SU manager will be notified that a positive test has occurred in an area they manage and that all members impacted have been contacted.
Virtual Meetings & Activities:

Meeting online doesn’t have to feel like school or work. GSDSW encourages troops and service units to use virtual meeting platforms to engage members in regular meetings and to share information about GSDSW-led virtual programming opportunities.

Troops can refer to The Virtual Meetings Playbook for insight on having fun, engaging, and safe meetings in a virtual setting.

Prior council approval is not required for virtual meetings but the guidance in the Virtual Troop Meetings Safety Activity Checkpoint and Internet Safety Pledge should be followed.

Safety-Wise ratios still need to be met in a virtual setting and troop leaders should still have a GSDSW Permission Form for each member.