COVID-19

Updated May 13, 2020

On Tuesday May 12, Governor Kemp issued Executive Order 5.12.20.02 giving additional guidance on opening businesses, theaters, restaurants, bowling alleys and other businesses in Georgia subject to certain restrictions.  The Executive Order also gives guidance on overnight camping and summer day camps in Georgia.  We intend to follow our Governor’s lead and begin opening up our Council and District events, subject to similar limitations that Governor Kemp has imposed on other businesses.

This policy applies to Council and District meetings and events and also addresses overnight camping by individual units effective May 15, 2020 and continuing until June 12, 2020.   Prior to Friday, May 15, all in-person Council and District events and all overnight camping events were cancelled or postponed.

Please understand that the following policy does NOT apply to the Council’s summer camp events at Camp Rainey Mountain and summer events held at Scoutland such as Pathfinders.   In addition, this policy does NOT apply to our Council sponsored summer Cub camps including day camps, twilight camps, STEM camps, etc.  A separate policy will apply to those events and will be communicated to troops, packs, and individual scouts participating in those Council sponsored summer events prior to their participation.

This policy may be updated as new guidance is issued by our state and local governments and by our healthcare experts.

COUNCIL AND DISTRICT MEETINGS AND EVENTS

1)   Unfortunately, we continue to live with the COVID-19 virus.  Accordingly, we encourage Council and District officers to consider using phone and video conferencing platforms for their meetings and events where possible.  We have all learned to hold effective meetings and boards of review using technology while satisfying social distancing concerns.  Please consider using remote technology – at least through May 31 and possibly longer.

2)   If a Council or District meeting or event cannot be effectively held on a remote basis or if an “in person” meeting is preferable, such meetings or events can occur if all the following requirements are followed:

a)   A maximum of ten individuals may gather together in one group.  For clarity, more than ten individuals may attend a meeting or event.  However, all groups with a maximum of ten individuals must be at least six feet from all other groups.  The scout professional and the Council or District volunteer in charge of the meeting must ensure that this social distancing requirement is followed. 

b)   The six-foot requirement for groups can be briefly ignored when multiple individuals are arriving or if a transition is required.  For example, it may take a few minutes to separate individuals into different groups that are six feet apart.  Please do not use this as an excuse to willfully ignore the social distancing requirement.

c)   When forming groups of ten or less, youth protection policies apply -- including two deep leadership, age, and gender of youth, etc.

d)   The Council or District volunteer in charge of the meeting or event (or his or her designee) must sanitize high touch areas before the meeting or event begins.  For example, doorknobs, tables, and other areas that are regularly touched must be wiped down and disinfected prior to the arrival of others.  If a bathroom will be used, the bathroom must also be disinfected before the arrival of others.  Sanitation efforts will need to be coordinated with the organization that is allowing use of its facilities.  Adults should be in charge of sanitation efforts.   If a youth or youths will be sanitizing, adult volunteers, following youth protection policies, should supervise the sanitation efforts.

e)   The Council or District volunteer in charge should ensure hand sanitizer or other hand washing supplies are available.  Do NOT assume the facility will have these supplies.

f)    Handshakes or other “person to person” contact should not occur.

g)   Facial covering or masks are strongly encouraged.

h)   Individuals with any COVID-19 symptom should not attend the meeting or event.  If within the prior 14 days an attendee has been in contact with anyone with these symptoms, the attendee should not attend the meeting or event. Prior to entering the meeting or event area, the Council or District volunteer in charge or the scout professional in attendance, (or his or her designee) should ask this question orally to all participants or hand out a written note to each attendee asking these same questions.

COVID-19 symptoms include temperatures greater than 100.4 degrees, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or other respiratory symptoms or at least two of the following symptoms:  chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.

i)    If the event or meeting is scheduled to last more than four hours, each attendee should have his or her temperature taken with an infrared thermometer upon arrival at the meeting to ensure no one in attendance has a fever over 100.4 degrees.

CAMPING OR APPROVED OVERNIGHT ACTIVITIES

1)   The Governor’s order (“Order”) prohibits “summer camps” (as defined in the Order) from holding overnight camps.  The definition of “summer camps” is broader than one might expect but at the same time vague.  We interpret the Order as prohibiting overnight camping sponsored by the Council or District.  For example, the Council has cancelled our Spring Family Camping event originally scheduled for Memorial Day weekend.

2)   Although not entirely clear, we believe it is possible for individual units to camp overnight including overnight camps using Council properties.  However, it is critical that any such camping follow all guidelines provided in the Order.  Many of these guidelines are summarized below.  Campouts must not extend beyond 72 hours.

3)   To ensure social distancing requirements, we are reducing the maximum capacity at our Council camps effective May 15, 2020 through June 12, 2020.  During this time, the maximum capacity at each camp and at each campsite within the camp is reduced by 50%. Reservations must be made by contacting Heather Sisk at Heather.Sisk@scouting.org

4)   Units using the Council’s camps must adhere to the following requirements.  We realize this list is lengthy.  The list is derived from the Governor’s Order.  Please follow these requirements when camping so we can have a safe environment available for a unit’s overnight camping.

a)   As part of making a reservation to camp, the unit leader is agreeing to follow all provisions of this policy and is responsible for ensuring others follow the policy.  If a unit leader has any questions about the policy, please contact your district executive or other scout professional. 

b)   Groups can only have a maximum of ten individuals.  Multiple groups may share a campsite and facilities at our Council camps provided each group is at least six feet from all other groups.  For example, a Troop with 25 scouts and adult volunteers can share the same campground composed of three or more groups if there is sufficient room for each group to be at least six feet apart from all other groups.  Once a group is formed, absent an emergency or other unexpected event, the group should remain as a group the entire campout (i.e., no exchanging individuals among groups).

c)   Events held during the unit campout must not result in a gathering of more than ten individuals within six feet of another group.  For example, a unit campfire should be avoided as it will be challenging to ensure groups of ten or less are at least six feet apart from other groups.  Care must be taken during other gatherings such as a flag raising or lowering, patrol or den events, camp events, free time, scoutmaster minutes, etc.  If unit leaders are not able to maintain social distancing at all times, the unit leader should end the overnight campout immediately.

d)   When forming groups of ten or less, youth protection policies apply -- including two deep leadership, age, and gender of youth, etc.  At camp, the buddy system still applies.  Buddies must be part of the same group.

e)   The six-foot requirement for groups can be briefly ignored when multiple individuals are arriving or a group is in transit.  For example, one group can pass another group on a camp trail.  However, no lingering should occur.  Please do not use this as an excuse to willfully ignore the social distancing requirement.

f)    At the beginning of each day, the unit leader or his or her designee must remind all campers of the social distancing requirements and hand washing guidelines.

g)   The unit leader (or his or her designee) must assume sanitizing obligations for the campground and the camp facilities that are used.   Do not assume tents or other sleeping structures provided by the camp are sanitized.   Similarly, leaders cannot assume restrooms or other camp buildings are sanitized. 

h)   Leaders must arrange for sanitizing supplies that will be used by all campers during the event or campout.  DO NOT assume the camps will have sufficient sanitation supplies. 

i)    Some camps do not yet have adequate facilities or supplies for hand washing.  Leaders should encourage individuals to bring their own hand sanitizer or other hand washing supplies.  Regardless, leaders of the campout should plan well in advance to ensure adequate hand washing is available for all participants.  Unit leaders should remind and encourage all participants to wash their hands for at least twenty seconds multiple times each day.  Handwashing must occur after use of any restroom facility and during snack breaks or meal breaks.

j)    Leaders must completely sanitize bathrooms each morning with at least one additional sanitizing effort during the day and at other times as necessary.  Leaders must sanitize high touch areas and surfaces during the day.  Sanitation efforts can be coordinated with other units using the camp.  Adults should be in charge of sanitation efforts.   If youth will be sanitizing, adult volunteers should supervise the sanitation efforts.  Please follow youth protection protocols.

k)   Camp kitchen facilities may NOT be used as part of unit camping.  Camp kitchen facilities are subject to the same specific sanitation procedures as public restaurants.  As a result, kitchen facilities are closed and not available to unit campouts.  If the dining area or any camp facility is used, the event leader must ensure the entire area is completely sanitized before and after its use.  For example, all tables, doorknobs and frequently touched areas must be wiped and sanitized before and after each use.

l)    Handshakes or other “person to person” contact is prohibited.

m)  Facial covering or masks are strongly encouraged.  Unit leaders should ensure all participants provide their own face covering.

n)   Each participant in the campout should have his or her temperature taken using infrared (no touch) thermometers.   Unit leaders or parents/guardians should take temperatures before leaving for camp.  Additional temperature testing must occur each morning and each evening. Individuals with a fever over 100.4 degrees or who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed in camp or to remain at the campout. 

COVID-19 symptoms include temperatures greater than 100.4 degrees, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or other respiratory symptoms or at least two of the following symptoms:  chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.

o)   Unit leaders must prepare a quarantine area where scouts or other individuals who show symptoms of COVID-19 can remain separate from all others until a parent or other individual can drive the scout home.   Any individual exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms must be separated from the group immediately and must leave camp as soon as possible.  Again, youth protection protocols apply at all times.

p)   Prior to a campout and again when leaving for the campout, the unit leader must communicate to each parent or guardian of a scout attending the campout and to each adult volunteer attending the campout that the scout or adult is NOT permitted to attend the campout if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 or had contact with a person that has or is suspected of having COVID-19 within the past fourteen days.

q)   Parents or guardians dropping off or picking up youth must remain in their cars.  To the extent practicable, unit leaders should establish staggered drop off and pick up times.  Hand sanitizer should be provided to youth and volunteer adults, at the drop location, if practicable. 

r)    Unnecessary visitors should not visit the unit during the campout.

s)   Do not use camp facilities that you cannot regularly sanitize or ensure have been sanitized.

t)    Each camper’s belongings should be stored separately (e.g., in their tent).  Belongings should not be commingled.  Discourage sharing of items such as flashlights, camp tools, etc.

u)   To the extent possible, allow only one group at a time to use camp equipment.  Sanitize the camp equipment after such use and before the use by another group.

v)   If the unit permits swimming (following all swimming guidelines of the camp and of the BSA), each group may swim only once each day.  Swimming times should be staggered to avoid crowding at the swimming location.

VULNERABLE POPULATIONS

1)   Regardless of the foregoing, individuals who are age 65 or older and individuals who have vulnerable health conditions are not permitted to attend any Council or District event or any campout or other event without a complete BSA medical form including Part C permitting such attendance.  This restriction applies until June 13, 2020. 

2)   According to Governor Kemp’s Executive Order, vulnerable health conditions include chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, severe heart disease, immunocompromised individuals (e.g., cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplant, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening conditions), individuals, regardless of age with class III or severe obesity, diabetes, liver disease, and persons with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis.

AN IMPORTANT REMINDER

We all desire to return to normal scout operations including camping.  We need your assistance to allow the Council to again open meetings, events and camps.   Please help us by following the above requirements.

While the above precautions and requirements are important, they do not remove the potential for exposure to COVID-19 or any other illness while at camp, at a meeting or at an event. Some people with COVID-19 show no signs or symptoms of illness but can still spread the virus, and people may be contagious before their symptoms occur.

Please use common sense.  Use face coverings and masks.  Maintain social distancing.  Be safe.

INDIVIDUAL UNIT EVENTS AND ACTIVITES

Consistent with our prior announcements, individual pack, troop, crew, post and ship units may make separate decisions regarding meetings and activities in conjunction with their chartered organization. However, when using our Council campgrounds, the above policy must be strictly followed.  We strongly encourage units to follow the above procedures when holding unit events and unit campouts at locations outside of our Council camps.  Please, follow all guidelines and requirements of our state and local health officials and our lawmakers. 

PARENTS AND GUARDIANS

We defer to parents and guardians who may adopt additional, self-imposed guidelines in addition to those described above.  Families always decide if their children should participate in unit activities or meetings depending on their comfort level.

SUMMER CAMPS

Currently, Camp Rainey Mountain will be open for camping beginning June 14.  Because the first two weeks of camp have been cancelled, a new week of camp has been added at the end of our regular camp schedule.  That week of camp begins on July 19.

The Pathfinder program at Scoutland will be held on the weeks of June 15 and June 22 as currently scheduled.

As previously stated, the above guidelines do not apply to Camp Rainey Mountain or to Scoutland during summer camp events and do not apply to our Council sponsored Cub day, twilight and Stem camps.  Separate safety and sanitation policies will be communicated to troops and units attending those events.

SCOUT STORE OPERATIONS

As a reminder, you can continue to order your scout supplies and needs from our Council scout stores.  The opening of our Lawrenceville store has not yet been determined.  Meanwhile, you can place your order by calling the Jefferson office at 706-693-2446.  Deliveries will be made at no cost (subject to certain limitations)

The Scout Store in Jefferson is open and happy to fill your scout needs.  If you desire, you can request curbside delivery or you can arrange for delivery.  We recommend calling in advance to arrange for delivery or curbside pickup. 148 Boy Scout Trail, Pendergrass, GA 30549; 706-693-2446

CLOSING

We hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will be controlled in our communities, our State and our country.  We pray for the safety of our healthcare workers, first responders and those who serve others affected by this virus and who work to make our world safer. 

We appreciate your patience during this challenging time.  Scouting is moving forward in the Northeast Georgia Council. Thank you for all you do!

 

Northeast Georgia Council, Key Three

Craig Pett, Council President

Carter Wood, Council Commissioner

Trip Selman, Scout Executive