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COVID-19 Important Updates & Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: August 27, 2020
Changes have been marked with yellow.

At Girl Scouts, there is nothing we take more seriously than the safety and well-being of our girls, volunteers, and council staff. As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, and the recommendations of the Ohio Department of Health, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio is putting the following measures in place:

GSWO Offices & Shops

We remain operational to serve you! In compliance with Ohio and Indiana’s “Stay at Home” orders, staff work limited hours in the office, while primarily working from home.

Customer Care

We are answering your calls and emails Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.


Lima Shop

It is with heavy hearts that we announce our decision not to reopen the GSWO Shop in Lima. However, our commitment to girls, families, and volunteers in the Lima area remains strong. We will continue to offer programs, the G.I.R.L. Resource Center, and staff support at the Lima Girl Scout Service Center, and have reopened Camp Woodhaven.

To ensure that Girl Scouts remains accessible to girls throughout the council, we are offering free shipping to Lima-area members from the GSWO Shops. Simply place an order online and they will ship your order to you directly.


Cincinnati, Dayton, and Toledo Shops

The GSWO Shops and Resource Centers in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Toledo are reopening our doors on August 4—and we're looking forward to seeing you again!

We're taking the following precautions to create the safest shopping experience for everyone.

  • Social Distancing & Limited Capacity: We're practicing social distancing, so please stay at least six feet apart from other shoppers. In addition, we will have limited capacity in our shops--three shoppers maximum in Toledo and Cincinnati, and four shoppers maximum in Dayton.
  • Masks Required: Visitors and employees are required to wear masks upon entering all of our buildings.
  • Cleaning Regularly: We're cleaning high-touch surfaces in accordance with the CDC's guidelines. In addition, items that have been returned, handled, or tried on will be disinfected before returning to the shop area.
  • Limited Hours: We've updated our store hours to allow us extra time to sanitize everything properly. Beginning July 21, shops will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 10-6 and Friday 10-5, closing for lunch 1:30-2.
  • Curbside Pickup: If you'd prefer not to come into the shop, you are welcome to use our contact-free shopping option at gswo.org/contactfree.

Your safety is always our highest priority. As situations change, we will may update our store policies and may need to close individual shops. We recommend calling in advance to verify that shops are still open, and continuing to check our this page for the most up-to-date information.


In-Person Shopping FAQs

To help you feel as prepared as possible for in-person shopping, we've answered some questions you may have. If you have additional questions, contact the Customer Care team at 88.350.5090 or customercare@gswo.org!

What is the capacity of each stop?
The Cincinnati and Toledo shops will have a maximum capacity of three people, and the Dayton shop will have a maximum capacity of four people.

What if I arrive and the shop is at maximum capacity?
We will have a waiting area in the lobby with ample room for social distancing. You are also welcome to wait outside the building.

What are the hours of each shop?
All three shops will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 10-6 and Friday 10-5, closing for lunch 1:30-2. The shops will be closed on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Are masks required?
Yes, all visitors and employees are required to wear masks upon entering all of our buildings.

Can I return items?
Yes, returns will be accepted beginning July 21. Items that have been returned, handled, or tried on will be disinfected before returning to the shop area.

Can I do contact-free shopping?
Yes! If you'd prefer not to come into the shop, you are welcome to use our contact-free shopping option at gswo.org/contactfree.

Can I reserve meeting space at the Service Center?
Reservations will begin August 1 for meetings beginning September 1 or later.

Meeting & Event Guidelines

Girl Scouts of Western Ohio has established the guidelines below for troops and service units who are ready to meet in person.

  • These guidelines are based on measures shared by the State of Ohio as part of Responsible RestartOhio, and are subject to change if state or local conditions change. 
  • In addition to the protocols below, all Girl Scout policies and procedures must be followed, including Safety Activity Checkpoints when applicable. 
  • Troop leaders and families should thoughtfully discuss if they are ready to meet in person. Caregivers who are not ready to meet should be provided a way to stay connected to the troop.
  • In-person troop meetings are not required. Each troop/family should weigh their participation based on their own health concerns and tolerance for risk. Members and troops who prefer to continue with virtual meetings and activities may continue to do so. Girl Scouts of Western Ohio will not penalize any girls or volunteers who are unwilling or unable to meet in person.  

From the start of this pandemic, Girl Scouts have proven themselves to be strong community supporters, going above and beyond to keep themselves and others safe. COVID-19 remains an extremely contagious virus that spreads easily in the community. Volunteers should take all reasonable precautions to limit potential exposure for girls, themselves and families and to prevent additional community transmission.

 

BEFORE TROOP MEETINGS

 

  • MANDATORY

    • Operate under reduced group size (see Meeting & Event Capacity tab).
    • Symptoms must be assessed before attending a troop meeting/event. Any individual having a fever of 100 degrees or higher cannot attend. 
    • Troops must have first aid supplies that include COVID-19 prevention items including hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol), tissues, disposable facemasks, and disinfectants. Trash baskets or bags should be supplied for meeting and activity spaces, if not already available. Disposable or no-contact thermometers may be added to supplies if available and not cost-prohibitive.
  • RECOMMENDED

    • Outdoor spaces where social distancing can be maintained are strongly recommended for meetings when the weather permits. 
    • Troop members should travel to meetings with only members of their household in the vehicle.
    • Girls should limit the items brought from home and any item brought should remain in the girl’s backpack.  No items should be shared.

 

DURING TROOP MEETINGS

 

  • MANDATORY

    • 6-foot social distance between individuals must be adhered to.
    • All participants must wear a mask or cloth face covering when meeting indoors, or when social distancing is not possible outdoors.
    • Attendees must wash their hands when arriving and before leaving. If a handwashing station is not available, hand sanitizer is required.
    • Troops should follow the no touch rule. No friendship squeeze, high-fives, handshakes, or any other physical contact.
    • No shared water coolers or shared drinking stations.
    • Serve only prepackaged food; gloves must be worn when serving food.
    • Immediately isolate and seek medical care for any individual who develops symptoms while at the meeting/activity.
    • Sanitize all surfaces, tools and equipment after usage.
  • RECOMMENDED

    • Troop leaders have a touchless thermometer to check temperatures when arriving and leaving.
    • Girls should limit the items brought from home;  any items brought should remain in the girls’ backpacks. No items should be shared.
    • Troops have a certified CPR and AED adult in attendance.
    • Girls should be encouraged to bring their own food.

 

AFTER TROOP MEETINGS

 

  • MANDATORY

    • Sanitize all surfaces, tools and equipment after usage.
    • Leaders must keep complete list of attendees at each meeting / event and include the date and beginning and ending time of the event, to be made available to local health districts if requested.
    • If an attendee tests positive for COVID-19 or has been exposed to COVID-19 and is showing symptoms, leaders must immediately:
      • Submit a written Incident Report to GSWO
      • Notify volunteers and the parents / caregivers of girls who may have been exposed. 
    • GSWO staff will: 
      • Contact the parents of anyone who may have been exposed, or other adult volunteers, without divulging the positive tester’s identity.
      • Alert the state and local departments of health, as needed. 
  • RECOMMENDED

    • Keep an open dialogue with families about current conditions and willingness to meet in person.
Meeting & Event Capacity

Based on current State of Ohio Guidelines for Childcare Providers, the maximum number of individuals in one place is 36 girls and adults. (overnight capacity is lower).

The total maximum allowable is also determined by the Square Foot Capacity of Facility to ensure a minimum social distancing of six feet in all directions.

To determine social distancing capacity, multiply the usable length and width of a room and divide by 36.

For example, a room with 16 feet of usable space in one direction and 14 feet of usable space in the other direction would be:

            16 x 14 = 224
            224 ÷ 36 = 6 individuals maximum

Or, a meeting room that is 20 feet by 24 feet would be:

            20 x 24 = 480
            480 ÷ 36 = 13 individuals maximum

Reminder:  Masks are required for all individuals (girls and adults) at all indoor meetings.

Meeting & Event Locations

Download a PDF of Meeting Location guidelines.

Troop Meeting Space

Outdoor spaces where social distancing can be maintained are strongly recommended for meetings when the weather permits. Volunteers should get advance permission from the property owner or the jurisdiction that provides the location. 

For meetings held at public facilities, volunteers should contact the facility ahead of time and ask:

  • Is the space cleaned, and touch surfaces (e.g., 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)?

Volunteers should supplement any practices that are less ideal. For example, if the troop arrives after another user group, they should plan to bring sanitizing wipes to get the space ready for their troop. Or if faucets are manual, volunteers should take time to show girls how to shut them off with a paper towel and to use paper towels for doorknobs.

Meetings may not be held in fitness centers or gyms because the atmosphere in sports facilities is aerosolizing, making them a higher risk for contracting virus.

Meetings at Girl Scout Properties

Girl Scout offices and camps are available for troop meetings to support troops that may have difficulty finding a meeting space.

All meeting rooms in Girl Scouts of Western Ohio offices and all lodges at Girl Scout camps will be available in 1.5 hour blocks, Monday through Friday at 4 PM, 6 PM, and 8 PM, and Sunday afternoons after 2 PM.

Troops are responsible for cleaning up the area after use. There will be a disinfecting cleaning spray available in the meeting rooms and troops are asked to wipe down all “high-touch” surfaces before and after use. 

There is no cost for this meeting room use. 

  • Overnight /weekend use of camp facilities can be scheduled through the Girl Scout camp registration system. Overnight / weekend use of Girl Scout office meeting rooms can be scheduled by contacting the camp registrar, Debbie Santel by email or by phone at 513.619.1397.
  • Common areas such as kitchens can be used for incidental use with your meeting room reservation. To reserve for a party or meal preparation, please contact the camp registrar. No more than one group can use a common area at any time and high touch surfaces must be cleaned by the troop before and after use.
  • Restrooms have a maximum capacity of two individuals. Social distancing requirement apply and high touch surfaces should be cleaned by the troop after use.

All troop meeting guidelines apply, including required mask use for all participants. 

To request meeting room, use please complete the GSWO Meeting Room Request Form. Meeting room capacities are based on State of Ohio Childcare Guidelines. Specific meeting rooms or lodges (if at camp) will be assigned based on availability.

Restrooms

Be very careful in public restrooms. Most public restrooms will regulate the number of people using the restroom at the same time, depending on the size. If there is no regulator or signage, have volunteers ensure girls take appropriate turns to maintain social distancing and that they wear their masks in the restrooms. If automatic flushers and sensory faucets are not available, girls and adults should get in the habit of using tissue or paper towel to open doors and latches, touching as little as possible. If the restroom is large, have girls use every other stall and avoid using stalls with a person in the stall next to them at the same time. Restrooms and toilets are fraught with germs normally, and more so now considering the contagion of coronavirus.

Troop Meetings in the Home

Girl Scouts of Western Ohio suggests no meetings in the home out of concern that there would be greater risk of exposure to other family members. In certain exceptional situations and due to the current COVID-19 risk restricting public meeting options, we recognize that in home meetings may be the only option.

Before deciding to meet in a troop member’s home, you should discuss the implications thoroughly with families and ensure it is the best option for the troop. In addition to following all Safety Activity Checkpoints, as well as State and Local mandates, you must agree to adhere to the following:

  • The home must be the home of registered, background-checked, council-approved Volunteer.
  • Girls may not meet in a home where a registered sex offender lives.
  • Only registered Girl Scout members (girl and adult) may be present at the meeting location. 
  • Animals should be kept in a place that is separate from the meeting space.
  • You should consider any personal homeowner insurance implications. Any property damage incurred during the meeting is the responsibility of the homeowner. You may consider asking your homeowner’s insurance carrier if there are any insurance exclusions regarding holding troop meetings at the home, in the event an accident or injury occurs. 
  • Trampolines and other equipment that could cause serious injuries should not be used during Girl Scout gatherings in the home.
  • Weapons must be completely out of view and stored in a locked space. 
  • Medication, dangerous cleaning products, or any poisonous substance must be stored in a secure space out of sight, preferably locked.
  • Girls should be encouraged to bring snacks from home or serve only pre-packaged food. No buffets, potlucks, or sharing of snacks should occur.
  • Meetings should ideally be held outdoors, perhaps in the back or front yard of the home (this is a COVID-19 specific precaution).
  • Mask and Social distancing mandates should be followed.
  • Follow hygiene and Covid-19 Risk Mitigation guidelines as outlined below.
Hygiene and COVID-19 Risk Mitigation

Follow the resources developed by credible public health sources such as CDC or your local public health department. Share these with girls and other volunteers and ensure that they are practiced during meetings and activities. Place signs in the meeting or activity space to remind girls and volunteers to engage in everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Signs should include:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, and wash or sanitize your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Wash hands if you do touch.
  • Volunteers, girls, and parents should be reminded to make sure temperatures are taken prior to group interaction to confirm the individual is not running a fever and temperature is a normal 98.6˚. Members with fever or temperature higher than 98.6˚ should skip the in-person gathering until their temperature is normal. 

See the CDC’s website for more on cleaning and disinfecting community facilities.

Face Masks & Face Shields

The Ohio Department of Health generally recommends that face shields be used in addition to face masks, not instead of face masks.  For more information on children and face masks and face shields, please refer to the following resources from the Ohio Department of Health. 

Face Shields FAQs
Children & Cloth Face Coverings (Masks)

COVID Incident Report

If an attendee tests positive for COVID-19 or has been exposed to COVID 19 and is showing symptoms, leaders must immediately:

  • submit a written Incident Report to GSWO
  • Notify volunteers and the parents / caregivers of girls who may have been exposed 
Program Updates

When situations change, Girl Scouts display their adaptability. Our program team is bringing Girl Scouts to your nearest device, with virtual programming and resources. Below is the latest—stay tuned for future new developments!


Fall Program Events

We're excited for the 2020-2021 membership year—and with a new year comes new program events and opportunities!

We are committed to providing girls opportunities to learn new skills, try new things, meet new people, and earn Girl Scout awards through program events. In addition to select small-scale, in-person events, we are preparing a variety of virtual opportunities, many of which will have guest presenters who are truly the content experts!

All council-sponsored events will be on the Activities Calendar and MyGS. We are continuing to add events for the fall, so be sure to visit the Activities Calendar often and register through MyGS.

Our 2021 Program Events Guide can be found online! This resource can be used by troops or families to see all of the potential offerings, including by community partners and potential spring events. Please keep in mind that situations are changing daily, so some events listed may have been altered, postponed, or canceled—double-check MyGS or with the community partner directly to ensure the event is still happening as planned.

Some fall events have already been added to the Activities Calendar, so start planning your fall adventures today!

Frequenty Asked Questions

What is the best way to see what events are happening and when?
All council-sponsored events will be on the Activities Calendar and MyGS. We are continuing to add events for the fall, so be sure to visit the Activities Calendar often. Remember, all event registration for council-sponsor events is through MyGS.

What about the Program Events Guide?
Our 2021 Program Events Guide can be found online! This resource can be used by troops or families to see all of the potential offerings, including by community partners and potential spring events. Please keep in mind that situations are changing daily, so some events listed may have been altered, postponed, or canceled—double-check MyGS or with the community partner directly to ensure the event is still happening as planned.

What about community partner events?
The Program Events Guide is a great place to see all the opportunities our partners provide. Please make sure to contact them first to ensure what programs they are able to offer and when.

Is there a cost for virtual programs?
While some events will be free, many events will have a small fee, which may include a fun patch, badge, or t-shirt. While we loved offering free virtual programs this spring, we're excited to return to small, group events that enable more engagement for attendees.


Resources to Support Virtual Troop and Girl Activities

Check out our Girl Scouts at Home page for free Video and Audio Conferencing and Online Collaboration Tools you can use to keep troop activities going, plus tips for conducting a virtual troop meeting. 

Virtual Program Opportunities
Join the program team live twice daily on Facebook!  You and your girl will have fun and earn badges during our virtual programs. Each activity is recorded and posted in the video section of our Facebook page, so you can view them later, too.


GSUSA Highest Awards Deadline Extension

Recognizing that many schools, youth activities and community gatherings have been suspended, and that we are navigating a period of rapid change, Girl Scouts is offering a three-month extension from September 30 to December 31 , 2020, to provide flexibility for Girl Scout Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors earning Girl Scouts’ Highest Awards. This is particularly relevant for 5th grade Juniors, 8th grade Cadettes, and 12th grade Ambassadors who will bridge to the next program age level officially on September 30, 2020, and typically would no longer be eligible to earn the Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award, respectively.

GSWO Camp Properties

GSWO camp properties are open for day use only, closing at 8 pm, for the month of August. Troops can use outdoor sites for 3-hour periods at no charge. No indoor spaces can be used, with the exception of one bathroom per property that will be identified for use.

GSWO camp properties will be open starting September 1, with reservations now open. Member safety is our first priority, so we are taking the following steps:

  • Unit usage is set at 50% capacity maximum.
  • Lodges will be available for overnight use, with one person per bunk, alternating top and bottom in each bunk.
  • Units can only be used by one group per weekend.  If a unit is reserved on a Friday or Saturday, please do not reserve the other night. If you reserve the other night, your reservation will be moved to a different building.
  • Campers should plan to wipe down all high touch surfaces before and after using the unit.  (There will be a dilute bleach cleaning solution available in addition to standard cleaning solutions.)

The only available tent units will be Whispering Winds at Camp Rolling Hills and Sassafras at Camp Butterworth. All other tents will be closed. 

Pools at GSWO camp properties will remain closed for all of 2020.

Reservations for September through December are now open.

Troop Travel

All troop travel has been canceled. Overnight trips are not permitted until after the home state, county, town or region is successfully past its final phase of re-opening. Exceptions may be made for travel within the council's jurisdiction.

If you are an Ambassador troop who will be graduating (in full or in part) in 2020 and have trips and activities you have to cancel due to stay at home orders, we are allowing you to extend your plans for a full membership year (October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021) by meeting the following criteria:

  • All participating graduates must be registered as adults for the 2020-21 membership year by October 1, 2020. Note: registration may be paid using troop funds or Digital Dough.
  • This Ambassador Plan Delay Notification Form must be submitted no later than October 1, 2020 (even if you don't have all of the details of the rescheduled trip).
  • All Girl Scout activities and trips must comply with current CDC, federal, state, and local health guidelines.
  • Troop funds should continue to be managed through the existing troop bank account.
  • Troop Finance Reports should be submitted as usual before June 30, 2020.
  • If your troop has continuing girl members, the troop and bank account will continue as usual. Graduating girls will participate as adult members. 
  • No requests for extensions will be accepted after October 1, 2020.

Complete this form to the best of your ability, even if you do not yet have exact dates for the rescheduled trip or event.

National Council Session (NCS) and G.I.R.L. 2020

As we’ve continued to monitor public health experts’ recommendations and forecasts, it became clear that, because there are no widely accepted models that predict when it may be safe to hold large-scale, in-person events and when all restrictions on travel will be lifted, Girl Scouts could not hold our G.I.R.L. 2020/55th National Council Session in October as planned—we simply can’t guarantee the health and safety of participants.

Given all of this, the National Board held a special meeting on Tuesday, April 21, and voted to hold a one-time virtual session for our 55th National Council Session in October 2020. The board also voted to cancel G.I.R.L. 2020, including the Global Roundtable.

We are reimagining NCS in the innovative spirit of our quick Movement pivot due to current challenges toward a 100 percent virtual experience to continue delivering for girls.

Learn More »

Digital Dough

The expiration date on Digital Dough that was originally set for March 15, 2020 has been extended through August 31. This will allow families and troops to use Digital Dough for summer and fall activities, and also allow girls or troops to re-use any refunded Digital Dough resulting from program cancellations. Please allow up to 3 weeks for accounts to be updated before trying to access your Digital Dough. 

Digital Dough earned since the fall of 2019 will still have an expiration date of March 15, 2021.

Local Health Department Information
Helpful Tips for Families

 

Thank you for exhibiting extraordinary Girl Scout spirit in these unprecedented times.

We are stronger together, and we know we will continue to do our best to support each other. Please stay healthy and help us make our communities safe for our girls, volunteers, and families.

For ideas on how to continue the Girl Scout Leadership Experience at home, visit gswo.org/athome.