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COVID-19 Updates & Resources

Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey is continuously monitoring COVID-19 updates from the Centers for Disease Control and the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub, and we are using these updates along with public school policies to inform our council-wide decisions and protocols to ensure everyone continues to have a safe Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

Beginning May 16, 2022, wearing a face mask and social distancing on GSHNJ property is optional for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

Girl Scout troops and service units may enforce stricter COVID safety measures at your discretion; visit the CDC’s website and the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub to check risk levels in your area and adjust your protocols as necessary. See below for recommended behavior in different settings.

GSHNJ strongly encourages all eligible individuals to get a COVID-19 vaccine and booster. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available: wearing masks, practicing social distancing, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, washing your hands frequently, regularly testing when you have symptoms, and getting vaccinated.

You can find the nearest vaccination site to you and schedule an appointment online, or call 855-568-0545 (numerous languages available). Vaccines are available to all New Jerseyans, regardless of immigration or insurance status.

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COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs, May 2022

1. Once someone is fully vaccinated, do they have to continue to practice the safety protocols as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), such as social distancing, washing their hands frequently, and wearing a face mask over their nose and mouth?

Wearing a face mask and social distancing is optional for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. Everyone should always practice regular hand washing.

Girl Scout troops, groups, and service units may enforce stricter COVID safety measures at your discretion; visit the CDC’s website and the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub to check risk levels in your area and adjust your behavior accordingly.

2. Are volunteers required to be vaccinated before they can meet in person with Girl Scouts?

GSHNJ strongly encourages, but does not require, vaccination for volunteers. 

3. Now that vaccinations for children are available, can councils or troop leaders require Girl Scouts to be vaccinated?

Currently, GSHNJ strongly encourages, but does not require, vaccination for youth.

In-Person Troop/Group Meetings

Girl Scout troops and groups (such as service units) may gather in person indoors or outdoors but must regularly check and follow venue-specific protocols.

Troops and groups should discuss—and regularly revisit--your tolerance for face masks and social distancing when inside and outside. GSHNJ strongly recommends that individuals wear face masks over their nose and mouth when risk levels in your community are high. Everyone should always practice regular hand washing and get tested if you have symptoms.

GSHNJ strongly recommends that troops and groups ask their members to consider their personal health status before attending a gathering. If anyone is exhibiting symptoms, they should be tested and use the CDC’s quarantine and isolation calculator to determine an appropriate response.

Meeting in a public indoor space like a school, library, community center, or church is allowed as long as the group adheres to the facility’s stated protocols. Also consider a local park, one of GSHNJ’s camp or service center properties, or the front or backyard of a private home. When using a private yard, be sure to first get approval via the Permission to Gather on Private Property Application.

Get advance permission from the property owner or the jurisdiction that provides the space. If you don’t already know, you should contact the facility ahead of time and ask:

1.      Does the facility require facemasks and/or social distancing? 

2.      Who else uses the space (how often, what size is the group)?

3.      Is the space cleaned between groups? How often are touch surfaces (light switches, handles, tables, etc.) cleaned?

4.      How often are shared facilities like public restrooms cleaned?

5.      What type of faucets/soap dispensers are available in the restroom (sensory or manual)?

6.      Then, consider whether you can supplement any practices that are less than ideal. For example, if you will arrive after another user group, plan to bring surface cleaner and sanitizing wipes to get the space ready for your troop.

GSUSA strongly discourages troops from meeting inside private homes. GSHNJ will make temporary, case-by-case exceptions to those who complete this application and meet the required criteria.

Virtual Troop/Group Meetings

Troops and groups (such as service units) are encouraged to host regular virtual meetings when in-person meetings are not possible or ill-advised.

For the significantly reduced price of $36 for the year, you may purchase a gsZoom license to use for Girl Scout activities. gsZoom licenses are available to any adult with an active 2022 membership and clear background check and are prorated by activation month. You must sign and return the End User Agreement found in your registration confirmation email prior to account activation. License allows for up to 500 participants and unlimited meeting length and is valid through July 31, 2022.

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Virtual Meeting Resources

 

Troop/Group Travel

Troops and groups (such as service units) may choose to participate in off-site, in-person programs and activities; you must adhere to venue-specific safety protocols and set clear expectations about appropriate behavior with everyone in your group.

Overnight trips and camping are permitted for Girl Scout troops or groups; you must adhere to venue-specific safety protocols and set clear expectations about appropriate behavior with everyone in your group.

All troops or groups planning an overnight trip or high-risk activity must submit a Trip Application and roster at least 30 days prior to the event. Event organizers are responsible for verifying and enforcing venue-specific safety protocols and visiting the CDC’s website or the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub regularly to check risk levels in the area to which you’re traveling.

GSHNJ strongly recommends that troops and groups ask their travelers to consider their personal health status before attending a gathering. If anyone is exhibiting symptoms, they should be tested and use the CDC’s quarantine and isolation calculator to determine an appropriate response.

Although travel plans are often arranged far in advance, recognize that the COVID-19 risk is fluid: it can and will change, and contingencies should be planned to include re-scheduling or even cancelling. For all trips, create a timeline and emergency action plan to identify a drop-dead date when decisions must be made about whether to move forward with the planned trip, based primarily on the safety of your Girl Scouts, along with financial commitment deadlines and/or other factors. You should also consider purchasing travel insurance; be sure to read all fine print and ask questions to ensure COVID-19 or pandemic-related cancellation is covered--it is often excluded.

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Travel FAQs

 

Do I have to collect permission slips?

If your troop is gathering in person somewhere other than your usual meeting place, then you must collect completed permission slips from the parent/guardian of every Girl Scout who attends, even if their parent/guardian is present. Leaders complete the top portion of this single-activity slip, save it, and then email it as an attachment to your troop’s parents. Or, if your troop is using the GSHNJ Annual Permission Slip, make sure you’ve shared the event details with parents and received confirmation that they understand, and then check to make sure you have each participating Girl Scout’s annual slip on file.

Do I have to submit a Troop/Service Unit Trip Application?

A Trip Application is required for any troop- or service unit-hosted event that includes an overnight or high-risk activity as defined in the most current version of Safety Activity Checkpoints. A Trip Application is not required for participation in GSHNJ-hosted programs. The application is necessary to ensure that all GSHNJ safety policies, standards, and guidelines are properly met prior to girls participating in the activity. Please note that Girl Scouts insurance coverage only applies to overnight and high-risk activities that have received formal approval. See our Troop/Service Unit Trip Application for more details.

In-Person Programs, Trainings, and Events

Beginning May 16, 2022, wearing a face mask and social distancing on GSHNJ property is optional for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. Participants at off-property GSHNJ-sponsored programs, events, and trainings must defer to the policies of the host venue.

All programs and events hosted by GSHNJ observe the strictest COVID-19 safety protocols as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub at the time of the event; they are planned in such a way that group size restrictions, cleaning, social distancing, and personal protective equipment guidelines are observed without affecting the quality of the programming. In the event handwashing facilities are not readily available, GSHNJ provides hand sanitizer or hand sanitizing wipes. Attendees, chaperones, and facilitators are required to provide their own facemasks when needed.

GSHNJ staff work with our community partners and vendors to ensure the same level of attention to quality and safety. We must defer to their business practices when determining mask requirements, rescheduling, refunds, etc. as necessary.

If you’ve registered for an in-person program, training, or event, you will receive a reminder email in advance of the program containing information about your upcoming event, COVID mitigation and PPE requirements, and a COVID-19 pre-screen questionnaire. This pre-screen asks the following questions:

  • Are you currently experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms as defined by the CDC?
    • Fever or chills (fever of 100.4 or higher)
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea
  • Have you tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 14 days?
  • Have you had close contact with someone who is currently sick with, or suspected to have, COVID-19 within the last 14 days and are not fully vaccinated?

Should your answer to any of these questions be “yes,” then you may not attend the program, training, or event, and must reach out to programs@gshnj.org immediately for next steps.

As COVID-19 safety guidelines are fluid, there may be times when GSHNJ must make last-minute changes to planned programs, trainings, or events. These changes will be communicated via email, and, if very urgent, phone.

Summer Camp

As you know, our priority is always the health and safety of our campers. As we enter the summer camp season, we are planning to use a variety of non-pharmaceutical interventions, as we did in our successful 2021 season – a season in which neither of our operating camps had a positive case of COVID-19. Interventions include wellness screening by families prior to attending camp; frequent handwashing breaks, particularly in activities with shared materials and before and after meal times; having hand sanitizer available throughout camps; utilizing outdoor and/or well ventilated spaces whenever possible; and cleaning high touch surfaces and materials regularly. Additionally, health center staff will monitor symptoms and address them with the help of our supporting medical professionals.

We continue to work in partnership with Girl Scouts USA, the American Camp Association, and The Alliance for Camp Health (formerly the Association of Camp Nursing), and follow the lead of all local, state, and national governing organizations. We will be mindful of changes that may come during the summer and will notify families accordingly.

GSHNJ Camp Rentals: Overnights and Day Trips

Camp Hoover, Camp DeWitt, and The OVAL are open for troop/group day trips and overnight camping.  Create your own activities or choose from our packages that will easily help you fill a meeting, an afternoon, or a whole day. Here’s more camp info.

Beginning May 16, 2022, wearing a face mask and social distancing on GSHNJ property is optional for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

All GSHNJ properties observe the strictest COVID-19 safety and cleaning protocols as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub; activities at our camps are planned in such a way that group size restrictions, cleaning, social distancing, and personal protective equipment guidelines are observed without affecting the quality of the programming. In the event handwashing facilities are not readily available, GSHNJ provides hand sanitizer or hand sanitizing wipes. Attendees, chaperones, and facilitators are required to provide their own facemasks when needed.

Once your reservation is confirmed, you’ll receive an email that includes your receipt, site-specific information, and safety instructions including COVID-19 and other communicable diseases.

Prior to your arrival, your group leader will receive a reminder email containing information about your upcoming event and a COVID-19 pre-screen questionnaire. This pre-screen asks the following questions:

  • Are you currently experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms as defined by the CDC?
    • Fever or chills (fever of 100.4 or higher)
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea
  • Have you tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 14 days?
  • Have you had close contact with someone who is currently sick with, or suspected to have, COVID-19 within the last 14 days and are not fully vaccinated?

It must be completed by all members of your group regardless of vaccination status. Should anyone in your group’s answer to any of these questions be “yes,” then they may not attend the event, and you must reach out to rentals@gshnj.org immediately for next steps.

All troops or groups planning an overnight trip to Camp Hoover, Camp DeWitt, or The OVAL must submit a Trip Application and roster at least 30 days prior to the event. See Troop/Group Travel above.

Retail Shops

GSHNJ retail shops in North Branch and Westfield are currently open for limited in-person shopping. Capacity limits may be set in the shops and can be changed at any time.

Beginning May 16, 2022, wearing a face mask and social distancing on GSHNJ property is optional for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

The order ahead option is still available. Please download and complete our online order form, save it, and then submit it here . You will be notified once your order is ready for pick up. And of course, you can shop online 24/7 at girlscoutshop.com . Please check out our shop page to find the most up to date hours of operation and contact information.

Exposure Reporting

Should you find someone connected to your troop is diagnosed with COVID-19 and you have reason to believe that others might have been exposed at a Girl Scout activity, follow this three-step process:

  1. The organizer of the activity should complete a GSHNJ COVID-19 Incident Report form, and submit to Michael Forrestall, Chief Operating Officer, Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey via email at mforrestall@gshnj.org.
  2. A positive COVID-19 test result will trigger notification to the appropriate public health authorities.  This notification is intended to ensure that steps are taken to safeguard public health, including contact tracing, and notification of those who are deemed at-risk of having been exposed.
  3. GSHNJ staff will notify all known participants of the incident via email.  As we are obligated to adhere to healthcare privacy law, we cannot provide information such as the name or health status of any specific individual.  Volunteers should not notify other participants; leave that to staff.
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Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey’s staff is working remotely, observing our standard business hours: Mon-Thu 9am-5pm, Fri 9am-3pm. Learn more about our retail shopping options, and don’t hesitate to contact us!

El personal de Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey está trabajando de forma remota, respetando nuestro horario comercial estándar: de lunes a jueves de 9 a. M. A 5 p. M., Viernes de 9 a. M. A 3 p. M. Obtenga más información sobre nuestras opciones de tienda y no dude en contactarnos.

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Resources

Tools and Resources for Girl Scouts

Tools and Resources for Coping with Stress

For mental health emergencies

Call 911 or the Disaster Distress Helpline, a national hotline for crisis counseling 

(1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746), The National Institute of Mental Health