|Dear Girl Scout Family,|
The Girl Scouts of WNY take this health threat seriously and will continue to follow direction from relevant county health departments, the federal Centers for Disease Control and the state Department of Health.
Girl Scouts, whose guidepost is always doing what’s right, normally mirror our public schools. Given that we serve multiple counties, [Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming], we are prepared to suspend Girl Scouting countywide if and when school districts suspend classes, as expected.
Based on recent updates from school districts and public health officials in Monroe and Erie counties, we will be suspending all Girl Scouting programs in Monroe and Erie counties including troop meetings, events and cookie booths effective Wednesday, March 18– April 1. We ask all of our members across our council to be prepared for potential program suspensions. We are planning another update to members on Tuesday, March 17th. We will continue to re-evaluate and communicate updates from across our region.
We want to emphasize that parents should use their discretion about their daughter’s involvement in any public activity, including Girl Scout meetings and events, the cookie program and cookie delivery. While we know that this virus has seemed to avoid children under 19, any with underlying conditions or with close family members with underlying conditions should take appropriate precautions.
The Girl Scouts of WNY has established and tested protocols for widespread health or food-safety issues such as this. We want to reassure our Girl Scouting family that leadership is constantly monitoring the situation and discussing best courses of action hourly. At this point, based on the CDC guidance of the number of confirmed cases in our counties, our communication yesterday was based on Level 1 Preparedness. We are now operating on Level 2, and we fully anticipate that changing in the next few days.
First, we wish to reiterate what we said in our email Friday: We encourage members to use discretion about your participation in Girl Scouting activities. Your health and the health of others is most important, and you will not be negatively affected if you are unable to volunteer or participate. 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 well-being of all, and we will communicate regularly with updates over the coming days and weeks.
Truth is, the timing of this virus coinciding with our annual cookie program and deliveries brings with it challenges, and facts, that would not be present at other times of our Girl Scouting year. But be assured that that does not deter us from always doing what is right, which is the Girl Scouting way.
In this context, we would appeal to our community supporters in all nine counties who are interested in buying our cookies online. At this time, our girls have multiple cookie booths planned that are impacted. Anyone interested in supporting a Girl Scout cookie booth virtually can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-837-6410.
Girls, families and volunteers slated to run a scheduled public cookie booth may decline to do so.
This is a highly fluid situation, as this past week demonstrated. We will always do what we feel is best for our Girl Scouts’ and their families’ health and well-being.
GSWNY has the benefit of available guidance from our national Girl Scouting leadership, as well as our peers around the country. What we’ve seen is customized approaches in each area to best serve our families. We too are working by the hour to serve and support our local families, and that will not change.
As many cookie booths have been impacted, we will adjust the cookie program to extend its duration to April 26, and extend final payment until at least April 28. We will monitor and adjust these parameters as conditions evolve.
We are holding two virtual information sessions, for service unit team members and troop leaders on March 18, to update everyone on the situation. Details may be found on our website.
We also think that Girl Scouts can be a positive outlet for our girls at this time. Most schools are being thrust into online learning options and those will inevitably vary from district to district and school to school. Girl Scouting activities when able to safely operate within public health guidelines can help families cope with unexpected and extended down time. We are continuing to work towards ways we can continue to be available to our members.
As you know, the CDC reports that children are not part of those at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19. As much as possible, and, again, at family discretion, children should be allowed to carry on with their education and normal activities – in the safest-possible way for them and their families.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at 1-888-837-6410 or email CustomerCare@gswny.org.
Yours in Girl Scouting,
CEO, Girl Scouts of Western New York