Dear Girl Scout Family,
As you may have heard, Governor Murphy made an announcement in the last few days that moves New Jersey further along “the road back.” While we are encouraged by this news, we realize that the risks associated with COVID-19 are fluid and will be with us for the foreseeable future.
As an organization, Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey has the utmost concern for the health and safety of our girls, our volunteers, and our staff. Last week, we received updated guidance from GSUSA, and, coupled with the Governor’s order, we are ready to share revised protocols for Girl Scout gatherings.
Over the past few weeks, the top inquiries from our community centered around the following four topics:
1. New Jersey enters Reopening Phase 2 on June 15, and the Governor’s stay-at-home order is lifted as of June 9. What does that mean for our troop and service unit meetings and gatherings?
While New Jersey is in the process of reopening, COVID-19 remains an extremely contagious virus that spreads easily in the community. GSHNJ recommends that troops and service units resume normal in-person activities only after New Jersey has successfully passed Reopening Phase 3.
However, as of June 9, the NJDOH advises that groups of 100 may convene outside and up to 25% of room occupancy or room capacity (not to exceed 50 people) may convene inside, as long as they maintain social distancing of six feet and wear face masks. Therefore, GSHNJ advises that in-person Girl Scout gatherings may resume as long as all reasonable precautions to limit potential exposure for girls, volunteers, and families, and the below protocols are observed:
Girl Scout groups must follow local restrictions on group sizes. In New Jersey, that is currently 100 people in an outdoor space, and not more than 25% of the room’s official occupancy (up to 50 people) in an indoor space. Restrictions may vary from county to county, and even from own to town — and frequently change. If more restrictive, follow the local restriction.
Outdoor spaces where social distancing can be maintained are strongly recommended. Get advance permission from the property owner or the jurisdiction that provides the location as usual.
For meetings held at outdoor public facilities, contact the facility ahead of time and ask (if applicable):
Is the space cleaned, and touch surfaces (i.e., tabletops, light switches, chairs, etc.) sanitized, at least daily?
Who else uses the space (how often, what size is the group)? Is the space cleaned between groups?
What type of faucets/soap dispensers are available in the restroom (sensory or manual)?
Then, consider whether you can supplement any practices that are less ideal. For example, if you will arrive after another user group, plan to bring sanitizing wipes to get the space ready for your troop. Another example: if faucets are manual, take some time to show girls how to shut them off with a paper towel. Use paper towels for doorknobs whenever possible.
Meetings may not be held in fitness centers or gyms, where a greater risk for contracting the virus may exist.
Meetings may not be held in private homes out of concern that there would be greater risk of exposure to other family members.
Schools or churches may not permit outside groups on premises, so always check and confirm ahead of time.
Individual parents must drop off and pick up their own girls. Carpooling and public transportation should be avoided to maintain social distancing.
Maintain six feet of social distancing at all times. This means hugs, handshakes, high-fives, and even activities like the Girl Scout Friendship Circle are off-limits. Help your girls get creative in finding a new way to greet and end meetings.
2. Can my troop take a day trip or participate in an activity at a local attraction? While New Jersey is in the process of reopening, COVID-19 remains an extremely contagious virus that spreads easily in the community. We recommend that troops and service units resume normal in-person activities only after New Jersey has successfully passed Reopening Phase 3. However, as the Governor’s stay-at-home order is lifted as of June 9, 2020, businesses and attractions will begin to resume in-person programs and activities. Troops may choose to participate in these events, but must ensure that the same meeting protocols required above are maintained. 3. Can my troop or service unit take an overnight trip or go camping together? Overnight trips are not permitted until after New Jersey has successfully passed Reopening Phase 3. Any trips/events previously approved for that time period are no longer “approved“ and will not be covered by Girl Scout insurance. 4. My troop still has leftover cookies to sell. May we hold a Cookie Booth? Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey, in guidance with the NJDOH, will allow outdoor booth locations to continue as long as all social distancing guidelines, established by the NJDOH and CDC, are followed.
We recommend no more than 2 girls and 2 volunteers present at each cookie booth location. All persons should stand 6 feet apart. Hand sanitizer and wipes should be at each site and all sanitation processes should be taken into consideration.
Do not let the customer directly touch the packages. A volunteer should pick the package for them, then designate a box or area where you will put all the items for the customer to pick up. Make sure to sanitize the surface after each purchase. When available, please use contactless payment.
All council-sponsored locations that were closed due to COVID-19 are still unavailable (i.e. malls and NJ Transit). Troops are allowed to make local arrangements with their local businesses.
Additional information and guidelines will be added and / or updated in the FAQs posted on our website early next week.
GSHNJ is so proud of the resourcefulness, resiliency, and selflessness our girls and volunteers have shown over the past few months. And we are excited that girls will soon have the opportunity to be with their Girl Scout sisters in person!
Yours in Girl Scouting, Natasha Hemmings | Chief Executive Officer