In-person troop meetings are NOT required. Each troop/family should weigh their participation based on their own health concerns and tolerance for risk. Volunteers and families should take all reasonable precautions to limit potential exposure for girls and themselves. It is an important time to be a great Girl Scout and demonstrate Girl Scout values. Members and troops who prefer to continue with virtual meetings and activities may continue to do so.
Troop Meeting Size
GSSI recommends 25 people or less. You may consider breaking into smaller groups/patrols (such as 10 or less) for activities to control the social distancing for your group. Patrols are a long-standing Girl Scout tradition, and this is the perfect time to use them. Please utilize all social distancing practices and follow all preventative guidance (such as face coverings).
For large troops, here are some ideas for volunteers:
- Host virtual troop meetings
- Gather in smaller groups such as age-level groups, patrols, or groups of girls with a particular badge they’d like to work on together
GSSI may permit larger gatherings, with restrictions. Such gatherings may include outdoor options like events, money-earning, and/or trainings. GSSI strongly recommends meeting outdoors as opposed to indoors, and only when social distancing can be maintained.
Volunteers should get prior approval from the council before planning any gatherings of more than twenty-five people. Answers to the following questions will help guide this decision:
- Has a successful final phase of re-opening been completed? (several weeks after)
- Do state and local laws permit larger gatherings? How many people are permitted?
- Have schools been re-opened for in-person classes?
- Is the event indoors or outdoors? (Outdoors is safer than indoors provided social distancing is maintained.)
- Can social distancing be maintained?
- Always follow CDC guidance and all GSUSA guidance available in this document pertaining to large in-person gatherings and/or events.
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 (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, work to supplement any practices that are less ideal.
- In the case that the troop arrives directly after another user group, they should plan to bring sanitizing wipes to get the space ready for their troop.
- If faucets are manual, ask volunteers to show girls how to shut them off with a paper towel and to use paper towels for doorknobs whenever possible.
Meetings may not be held in fitness centers or gyms because the
atmosphere in sports facilities is aerosolizing, putting people at a
higher risk of contracting viruses.
Troop Meetings in the Home
Meeting in the home causes concern due to a greater risk of exposure to other family members in the home. In certain exceptional situations and due to the current COVID-19 risk restricting public meeting options, GSSI will evaluate in-home meetings on a case-by-case basis.
GSSI’s approval process and considerations will include:
- The home must be the home of a council-approved registered volunteer with a current background check on file.
- Girls may not meet in a home where a registered sex offender lives.
- GSSI requires background checks for all adults living in the home.
- The troop needs to be able to focus without disruptions from other household members.
- Animals should be kept in a place that is separate from the meeting space.
- Homeowners should consider any personal homeowner insurance implications. The Homeowner should ask their 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.
- 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 and preferably locked.
- Meetings should ideally be held outdoors, perhaps in the back or front yard of the home (this is a COVID-19 specific precaution).
- Ensure that the Hygiene and Risk Mitigation and all other guidance in this document are followed. (This is a COVID-19 specific precaution.)
Meeting options may need to be flexible based on the fluid nature of COVID-19 risk. Troops that are able to run online meetings as needed (or wanted) should continue to do so. Use the Safety Activity Checkpoints for Virtual Meetings to guide your meeting plans.