Dear members and friends,
We are now entering week eleven of our state-wide shelter-in-place. Thank you to everyone for staying home, wearing masks, social distancing, and doing your part to keep our communities healthy. Thank you also for all that you are doing to nurture friendship and belonging during this challenging time through virtual troop meetings, camporees, service projects, and reaching out to each other.
Many of us want to know: When can Girl Scouts get together in person again in our communities and at parks and council properties? We cannot answer this question yet, but we do have more information about the conditions under which state and local public health authorities will start to re-open our communities for Girl Scout-like activities with specific safety requirements.aking to equip our volunteers and families to participate in safe, in-person Girl Scout activities across our diverse communities.
Key Topics for this Update:
- As of today, all California counties remain in various phases of Stage 2, with the ability for some counties to move into early Stage 3, which was announced yesterday. The state has adopted a 4 Stage roadmap for re-opening.
- Counties need to be in Stage 3 before we can start to re-open for in-person Girl Scouts.
- In-person troop and service unit gatherings and events are NOT yet permitted, and will resume on a county-by-county basis in counties that reach the part of Stage 3 where community centers, public pools, playgrounds, and picnic areas may re-open.
- Our program and camp properties will remain closed until at least June 10.
- Girl Scouts of Northern California’s approach to deciding when and how to re-open program properties and/or permit Girl Scout gatherings and activities.
- For making decisions about specific activities and safety measures, we will need to rely on volunteers, parents, and girls.
- We are developing training, FAQs, and guidelines for our members and families.
- Thank you to each of you for your patience and understanding as we join together to keep our communities safe and healthy.
California is re-opening in stages. As of today, all counties are currently Stage 2. Based on the most current review of activities permitted in late Stage 2 and in Stage 3, and with a focus on safety first, we think Stage 3 is where we will be able to restart some in-person Girl Scout gatherings and visits to our program and camp properties (with applicable safety requirements in place). We are working on training so that our volunteers and girls will be prepared, as counties outside the immediate Bay Area may be able to enter Stage 3 within the next several weeks.
Counties need to be in Stage 3 before we can start to re-open for in-person Girl Scouts.
Under current Stage 2 guidelines, which apply to ALL counties:
- In-person troop and service unit gatherings and events are NOT yet permitted, and will resume on a county-by-county basis only as counties enter Stage 3. We hope to be able to allow small group gatherings for most counties located outside the Bay Area within weeks.
- Our program and camp properties will remain closed until at least June 10. Properties outside the SF Bay Area will most likely be the first to re-open with restrictions.
- Two-week rolling cancellations for existing property reservations: We have closed all program properties and cancelled all property reservations through June 1 and are now extending this blanket cancellation to June 10. Going forward, every Wednesday, we will extend closures and cancel all reservations made for the next two-week period unless the county where the property is located has entered Stage 3. If the county has entered Stage 3, we will notify reservation holdersthat we are reviewing safety requirements and will advise whether we will be able to honor their reservations, subject to the reservation holder's ability to comply with all safety requirements (including group size, distancing, etc.). We will continue to issue full refunds for anyone who chooses to cancel their property reservation through August 31, 2020.
- No new reservations at this time: We will not accept new property reservations until the state has issued guidelines for Stage 3 re-opening, including for community centers, public pools, playgrounds, and picnic areas. We need to better understand restrictions on size, use of common areas, day use vs. overnight use, distancing requirements, cleaning requirements, etc. before re-opening our reservation system.
Girl Scouts of Northern California's approach to deciding when and how to re-open program properties and/or permit Girl Scout gatherings and activities. We are monitoring CDC, state, and county guidelines for:
- Schools, camps, and day care centers
- Community centers, public pools, playground, and picnic areas
As counties start to enter Stage 3 (in a matter of weeks outside the Bay Area, if Governor Newsom's expectations hold), we will provide guidance for volunteers to use on how to determine the requirements for their own local county or city on whether and how Girl Scout meetings and activities can restart. We will also update our policy on program properties, troop and Girl Scout meetings, and other programs and events in accordance with state guidelines.
- Girl Scouts of Northern California will be complying fully with state guidelines, and your county must be in Stage 3 in order to resume troop and other Girl Scout group meetings and activities, subject to applicable safety measures.
For details about specific activities and safety measures, we will need to rely on volunteers, parents, and girls to make informed decisions. Monitoring COVID safety requirements in each of our communities is now a life skill, and we Girl Scouts will be prepared. When, under local county guidelines, we are allowed to increase Girl Scout activities, our members will need to be prepared and responsible for knowing and following safety requirements, including:
- Using masks and other personal protective equipment
- Limits on group size
- Social distancing requirements
- Restrictions on types of activities
- Measures to protect vulnerable populations
We are developing training, FAQs, and guidelines for our members and families.
It will be essential that our volunteers and families are informed and prepared to monitor and comply with safety guidelines in their communities and to make health decisions that are in the best interests of their family. Our girls can also become leaders in their communities and among their peers, developing an understanding of the safety guidelines for their communities. It is not realistic to expect council staff to monitor or approve every potential Girl Scout activity across our whole council—there are too many variables, and an approved activity might become a prohibited activity with little notice. Think of kayaking— we rely on our volunteers to make sure that all of the safety requirements (like age limits, life jackets) are in place, and also to exercise judgment to cancel the activity if small craft warnings are posted.
Thank you to each of you for your patience and understanding as we join together to keep our communities safe and healthy. As Girl Scouts, we have always been great at planning—now we need to become great at adapting to uncertainty. I see that happening all around us, with incredible and generous creativity in the field among our volunteers and girls.
While we are helping others, it is also so important that we take care of ourselves and allow each other space to be sad about the changes around us.
- Our camp team shared thoughtful tips about ways to support our girls (and each other) through the disappointment of cancelled summer plans.
- GSUSA is providing guides to help all of us support each other and our girls during a stressful time.
- Many of our current hybrid (virtual and local) experience offerings provide opportunities for girls to connect with their Girl Scout sisters, for friendship and support. We may not be meeting in person, but Girl Scouts is still happening!
As always, please let me know if you have questions or comments. It has been wonderful to see members at our Zoom Town Hall meetings underway, and I welcome your questions and comments at these meetings.
Yours in Girl Scouting,
Girl Scout of Northern CaliforniaWednesday, May 20