Last updated at 8:06 pm 3/15/2020
Dear Girl Scouts, Parents, Volunteers, Community Partners and Girl Scout Stakeholders,
Like all of you, we at GSDSW are deeply concerned about the spread and the impact of COVID-19 on our nation and the world. We had an executive team meeting yesterday and have created a plan to reduce exposure to our staff, girls, volunteers and community partners. Our plan includes information on: 1) business operations and working environment, 2) programs, events and meetings in all areas of our council 3) cookie program extension requests and 4) troop and service unit operations. All of these items have been carefully considered to create the least amount of disruption for you and ensure we can help reduce the risks of spreading the virus through social distancing.
As of Monday, March 16, 2020, all but critical staff will be working remotely. We have the means to conduct the majority of our business needs remotely through laptop computers, Zoom meetings and cloud technology. Our phone systems are not completely there yet. Our Odessa office staff do have the ability to take their phones with them and work from home. Our other offices are not at that point yet but we are hoping to have a solution in place within the next few days. Until that time occurs, we are putting in place the ability to handle phone calls. The best way to get assistance for a short period of time will be to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Your needs and requests will be handled in a timely manner during business hours. If you have an emergency, you can always reach me directly at (559) 284-3795. We will reopen our offices on Monday, April 6, 2020 for business. If for some reason this date changes, we will notify you through email and social media.
Girl Scout Shops
Our brick and mortar Girl Scout Shops will be closed through April 5, 2020 and reopen on April 6, 2020. We do have our online ordering option available to you. If you need Girl Scout merchandise in the coming weeks, you can shop at www.girlscoutshop.com and order your items online. We are in the process of getting a code for you to get free shipping on your order. Please check our Newsfeed at www.gsdsw.org in the next couple days to get the code.
We will have only a few critical staff entering the premises at specific times of the day. They are there to ensure the organization will keep the lights on and bills paid. Other than the mailman and delivery agents, no other individuals will be allowed in the building. Our offices will be considered closed and staff will be working remotely.
All travel for our staff will be canceled or delayed until after April 5, 2020.
Programs, Events and Meetings
Programs and Events
At this time, all GSDSW programs and events scheduled to occur between March 16th and April 5th will be postponed to a new date yet to be determined . We know the importance of every program and event we offer and do not want any of our girls to miss such important lessons, experiences or fun activities. Once we have resumed normal business operations, new dates will be put in place and notification to all parties will be sent. If for some reason you are not able to attend the new date or would like a refund for your event fee, please email us at email@example.com with the critical information: event name, who ordered the tickets, and you would like a refund. We will be reimbursing you in the same manner in which you paid (i.e. refund to credit card, desert dollars, etc.)
All of our meetings will move to remote meetings utilizing Zoom and other remote meeting software. This will allow everyone to continue with business but keep everyone at a safe distance to help reduce possible exposure. If you have a meeting scheduled, our staff will reach out to you to ensure you have the ability to meet in this manner. For any meetings that require them to be in person, they will need to be postponed until after April 6th or until we resume normal business processes.
Cookie Program and Extensions
We know many of you were finishing up your cookie season and had last sales to complete. We also know many of you had to cancel final booths due to the fear of exposure. We understand your concern completely and understand the pandemic should not be the reason you have cookies left over. We have a plan.
After all business resumes normally, we will be opening up a three week period that will allow you to conduct booths and sell the remainder of the cookies you have left. This will ensure you are not losing any monies you had expected. The final ACH is still going to occur on schedule, March 25, 2020. If you need an extension, you need to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 23, 2020. Troop recognition orders are due on March 26, 2020. Delinquent reports are due March 23, 2020. Product transactions and all input needs to be in the system March 17, 2020. If you have not sold all of your product, you will still need to move the unsold product down to the girls to get the recognition items. Recognition orders will not be delayed due to tight deadlines with the baker.
Additionally, we will have another opportunity for you to pick up additional product during that three week period. The girls will not get additional recognition items, but the troop will earn a higher troop proceed for those packages. We will send out full details once this process is completely prepared.
Troops and Service Unit Operations
Troop, Leader and Service Unit Meetings
We know you have many meetings, events and programs you conduct for your girls in addition to what our council provides. The council is aware of the disruption this pandemic is causing. We also understand your concern for the safety of all of your members. As of Monday, March 16th, we request you postpone all of your in-person meetings, events and programs. This will help reduce the amount of exposure to you and your families.
We do recommend you look into different options for meeting remotely with your girls and their parents.
- Zoom.com allows you to meet through your computer or phone. You must have minimum of three participants and a maximum of 100 participants. Girls can use video conferencing through this manner.
- Facebook messaging or
Facebook Live can be utilized if you have a troop closed Facebook
Now is also a perfect time to use Volunteer Tool Kit on your myGS account. This allows you to speak with your parents and list what needs are to be completed for each of the meeting sessions. If you need help using VTK, please contact us at email@example.com so we can have someone call and walk you through the process.
We will have a list of different websites you can use to keep girls active during this period of remote meetings. We have a few listed below but will have a much larger list for you in the coming days. The list will be located on our website in the Newsfeed.
- Tynker.com has free coding classes. The troop leader can sign-up as a teacher and invite the girls to the class. It can tie in to your coding badges.
- Safety Pin
- My Promise, My Faith
- All of their petals
- Household Elf
- My Best Self
- Home Scientist
- Playing in the Past
Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors:
- Virtually Badges has programming for Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors they can do online. It has the badges they can earn on the site. There are even virtual field trips on the site for your girls to experience.
I would like to thank all of you for your continued support and understanding. This is a situation that most of us have never lived through before and as with many new experiences, can be scary. I would like you to remember the easiest way to remove the fear is to be knowledgeable on the subject. The CDC, your state and local government agencies have the most up to date information. Click on this link to view an information sheet with sites for additional information and the best process to help prevent the spread of the virus for your easy reference . We encourage you to follow CDC recommendations and take precautions which can be effective at helping reduce the spread of the virus or any other flu or colds.
Leaders and parents, GSUSA has a Raising Awesome Girls article which will help you talk with your Girl Scouts about the Coronavirus. You may want to review this resource and use it.
If you know someone who has opted out of our emails or does not receive them, please pass the information to them so they have the correct info.
During this time of need, please remember some key areas of our Girl Scout promise and law: help each other, be kind to one another, remember to be considerate and caring and stay courageous and strong. Most of all, be a sister to every Girl Scout and encourage each other during this very stressful time.
Yours in Girl Scouting,
Chief Executive Officer for Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest