Coronavirus Update 3-13-2020

Dear Girl Scout Family,

Thank you all for your continued dedication to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our girls. 

We are writing to update you as we learn about new developments related to the potential further spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) in our area.  Currently 8 of our 9 counties have not reported a confirmed case, but Monroe County has reported one confirmed case. The safety and welfare of our girls and adult members is our top priority.

GSWNY is closely monitoring the COVID-19 updates from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization , and the local public health departments for each of the nine counties within our council boundaries. 

At this time, based on state-wide and local guidance girls can still participate in Girl Scouting, including troop meetings, programs and cookie booths, with the following limitations:

Troop and Service Unit Events:

We are now limiting Girl Scout programs and events to the following size starting immediately through April 30, 2020:

  • Monroe County – no more than 50 people in attendance at events.
  • Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Niagara, Orleans, & Wyoming – no more than 100 people in attendance at events.
  • Council-sponsored programs – we will send out another communication next week regarding cancelled or postponed council-sponsored programs.  Anyone signed up for a council-sponsored program this coming weekend will also be contacted directly.
  • Troop and Service Units with events planned larger than the numbers listed above will need to cancel or postpone your event to a later date.
  • If Troops/Service Units have events planned with a vendor – please call the vendor directly to ask for guidance.
  • If you have questions, please call Customer Care at: 1-888-837-6410 or email customercare@gswy.org

Cookie Program:

Girls’ health and safety is our top priority. We are in the midst of a fluid situation that has the possibility of changing very rapidly. By actively following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the New York State Department of Health, as well as local public health authorities, the following has been put into place by GSWNY:

  • The Direct Sale portion of our program will continue as planned.
  • Our recommendations for booth/direct sales is as follows:
    • If booths are cancelled, troops should consider scheduling different locations or implementing walkabouts/drive-thrus.
    • If you have planned a booth that has more than 100 people in the area at a given time, we recommend you postpone that booth. If it is a troop-secured booth, we suggest working with the establishment to re-schedule.
    • If you have a council-secured lottery booth with the above criteria, we are working with these community partners to re-schedule any that have postponed with us. Thus far, the Galleria Mall is the only place to do so. All other council-sponsored booths are going on as scheduled unless we hear otherwise. We will contact troops directly if cancellations occur.
  • The Cookie Program will be extended until April 12th.
  • Final payment will be extended until April 14th. (Initial payment will not be extended.)
  • Cookie Cupboards will be open. Service Center Cupboards will be open in April; Volunteer cupboard will close at the end of March.
  • Currently, our cupboard inventory is well stocked. Varieties may become limited at our cupboards beginning in April.

As these are GSWNY’s recommendations, troops, parents and girls should do what they feel comfortable in doing. If a public health entity directive makes it impossible for the sale to continue as planned, GSWNY will work with troops and families to determine alternative formats or booth dates. We will update you with any new information as it becomes available to us. Please know we are working as quickly as we can to assist you with your questions and concerns and always have our girls’ and volunteers’ well-being and safety as our #1 priority.

Travel Programs:

  • All travel outside of our council jurisdiction will need to be postponed or cancelled starting immediately through April 30. 
  • We invite our members to call us at: Customer Care 1-888-837-6410 or email customercare@gswny.org  with any questions – we are here to help you.

Coronavirus Update Webinars:

We are also holding two Q&A webinars for our volunteers on Wednesday, March 18:

  • Coronavirus Update for GSWNY Service Unit Team Members, 6:00 pm – 7:00pm: Register Here
  • Coronavirus Update for GSWNY Troop Leaders, 7:00 pm – 8:00pm: Register Here

Additional guidance for members:

  • First and foremost, we recommend that members regularly visit the Centers for Disease Control for updated information on preventative measures when out in public. This provides suggestions and preparation measures that we can all take in our daily lives to reduce the potential for spread.
  • For individual troop or service unit events, we recommend that decisions be made based on the local/CDC guidelines, as well the comfort level of the families and volunteers.  
  • If troops do have a program event booked, such as at a museum or community partner, we strongly recommend that they reach out to the vendor to confirm the program will run. 
  • If a troop loses their meeting place due to restricted access, please work with your Service Unit teams to identify temporary meeting places as needed and call GSWNY Customer Care if you need our support.
  • For your service unit meetings, consider adding a call-in or virtual option for those who cannot attend in person, in addition to providing hand sanitizer and taking other preventative measures.

We encourage members to use discretion if you are sick, and also use your discretion about your participation in Girl Scouting activities. Your health and the health of others is most important and you will not be negatively impacted if you are unable to volunteer or participate while sick. Our most valuable resource is and always will be our people, including our girls, volunteers, staff, and our family members. We are committed to actions that maintain the health of all and we will communicate regularly with updates over the coming weeks.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Alison Wilcox

CEO, Girl Scouts of Western New York

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