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COVID-19 Updates

GSWNY COVID-19 guidelines for in-person Girl Scout meetings and activities 

COVID-19 Guidance for Volunteers

Thank you to all of our volunteers for your dedication to ensuring safety standards.  The safety of our girls, volunteers, members, families, and staff is our #1 priority.

December Update

GSWNY continues to align our practices with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance, and New York State K-12 school guidelines.

In accordance with these guidelines, GSWNY no longer requires masks nor social distancing for Girl Scout events or meetings.

Members should follow the CDC’s Exposure Guidance for exposure, symptoms and positive test results.

It’s important to be aware of a few things:

  • The CDC's guidance could change at any time, which could also impact our council’s safety guidance
  • If you are attending a troop meeting or a program where the vendor and/or facility requires a mask, you must adhere to their guidelines
  • Anyone who is experiencing symptoms should not attend GSWNY programs or activities and should contact their doctor immediately for guidance
  • The CDC recommends vaccination for COVID-19 for all who are eligible; GSWNY encourages all members to consult with their healthcare provider for decisions on vaccination

We have also included conversation starters for you and your family to help navigate everyone in our council through this transition.

We know that some will choose to wear a mask, some will not, and some are still unsure what they will do. We also understand that some may choose to wear a mask when they are in close proximity to others or when in a large crowd.

Volunteers may not require girls or other adults to wear masks. Based on comfort level, GSWNY members may choose to prioritize outdoor or virtual meetings and of course, choose to wear their own mask.  In addition, if there are medical conditions within the troop that require masks for the safety of girls or volunteers, the troop may decide to wear masks.  If you have questions on these circumstances, please reach out to us at or call 1-888-837-6410.

We want to remind everyone that harassment or pressure about an individual’s choice to wear or not wear a mask will not be tolerated. Everyone should feel welcomed and comfortable making their own individual choice.

Please feel free to contact us at or call 1-888-837-6410. In an emergency, please call 1-800-882-9268.

Thank you again for your dedication to ensuring safety standards and for all you do!

Meeting/Activity Guidelines

There are no COVID-19 restrictions for indoor or outdoor meetings or events; however, troops are still prohibited from holding meetings or events at private residences, including backyards.


Public transportation is permitted. While GSWNY no longer requires the use of masks for Girl Scout activities, please continue to follow local guidelines regarding the use of face coverings, social distancing, and other COVID-19 guidelines on public transportation.  

Troop meeting locations

If your previous troop meeting place is no longer available, reach out to your service unit or GSWNY Customer Care at to identify other possibilities.  GSWNY properties are available for booking for troop meetings.

Hygiene and COVID-19 Risk Mitigation

Place signs in the meeting or activity space to remind girls and volunteers to engage in everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Signs should include:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, and wash or sanitize your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Wash hands if you do touch.
  • Volunteers, girls and parents should be reminded to make sure temperatures are taken prior to group interaction to confirm the individual is not running a fever (100 degrees or over). Members with fever or temperature higher than 100 should skip the in-person gathering until their temperature is normal.
  • Parents and volunteers should consider these screening questions before attending  each Girl Scout meeting or event: 
    • Have you or anyone with whom you live experienced any of the following symptoms within the past two weeks?
    • Have you or anyone with whom you live experienced any of the following symptoms over the past 24 hours?
    • To your knowledge, have you been in close, sustained contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) with anyone showing any of the above-referenced symptoms, or anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

Also, volunteers should include these questions in each email confirmation they send to parents for meetings and events.

Personal contact. Hugs, handshakes, “high-fives,” and even activities like the friendship circle or squeeze can transmit COVID-19 from person to person. Refrain from these gestures for the time being. Create a safe way for girls and volunteers to greet and end meetings.

First Aid Supplies. Troop first aid supplies should include COVID-19 prevention items including hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol), tissues, disposable facemasks, and disinfectants. Trash baskets or bags should be supplied for meeting and activity spaces, if not already available. Make sure that the trash baskets (or bags) are easily accessible. Disposable or no-contact thermometers may be added to supplies if available and not cost-prohibitive, however, parents should be checking temperatures and allowing their girl(s) to join group activities only when temperatures are normal (the same guidance applies to volunteers).

First Aid / CPR Training. Keep skills up-to-date for any emergency. Troops must have a volunteer with current First Aid/CPR training to take a field trip.

Disinfectants and Disinfecting.  Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched (e.g., table tops, markers, scissors, etc.). Use a household cleaner, or see the EPA’s list of effective cleaners approved for use against COVID-19. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).

Household bleach is effective as a cleaning agent against COVID-19 for up to 24 hours when properly diluted. Check that the bleach is not expired and determine if it can be used on a given surface. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.

To prepare a bleach solution, mix:

  • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
  • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

See the CDC’s website for more on cleaning and disinfecting community facilities.

Property Guidelines

Anyone displaying COVID symptoms while on a GSWNY property should follow the CDC Exposure Guidelines.

Troop Travel

If the families of your troop are in agreement to travel, and understand the inherent risks, overnight camping and travel is allowed if the following guidelines are followed.

  • Current GSWNY COVID-19 Guidelines for Girl Scout activities must be followed.
  • Council approval is required for trips more than 250 miles from troop meeting place or longer than 2 overnights by completing the GSWNY Intent to Travel.  This form must be submitted at least 3 months prior to travel. Please email for any assistance.
  • For additional guidance on when to submit an Intent to Travel please review the GSWNY Travel Right Requirements located in the GSWNY Troop Travel Guide.
  • For all travel of more than 250 miles from troop meeting place or longer than 2 overnights troops must complete the GSWNY Troop Travel Covid Trip Summary Plan 8 weeks prior to departure.
  • GSWNY is now accepting international Intents to Travel. Travel to countries that have designated “Level 4” Travel Advisory in place by the US Department of State is NOT PERMITTED.
  • Cruises at this time are NOT PERMITTED.
  •  For international trips all travelers must be fully vaccinated and provide proof of a negative Covid-19 PCD PCR test to troop leaders 72 hours before departure.
  • For international trips, there will be a required staff check in 45 days prior to departure to review the travel advisory for the destination.

Please use the below checklist to evaluate if you are ready to submit an Intent to Travel:

COVID-19 incidence rates: 

  • Have you checked the COVID-19 rate in your local area, AND in the travel destination? Is it relatively high or low?

STOP:  If the COVID-19 rate is high at either location, consider rescheduling. If the US Department of State has a “Level 4” Travel Advisory in place, Girl Scouts do not travel to that location. 

COVID-19 related requirements for vaccination or testing in the destination: 

  • Are vaccines, testing, masking or other COVID-19 mitigation measures required at the location?
  • For international trips, what is the plan for testing required to return to the US? How will tests be obtained and who will cover this cost?

STOP:  If a group cannot comply with all COVID-19 regulations at the destination, or GSWNY COVID-19 Guidelines , consider rescheduling.

Financial considerations:

  • What is the deadline for final payments to be made, and have you worked with vendors to push payment deadlines as far out as possible?
  • What is the cancellation policy of the hotel/accommodation? Best to find 24/hour cancellation policy locations, when possible.
  • Is the airline offering full refunds or just changeable tickets? Can the troop afford to purchase refundable tickets?
  • Do all travelers understand the financial implications if the entire trip is postponed or cancelled at the last minute, or if an individual participant(s) must cancel at the last minute? Exactly how much money would each person lose?
  • If a participant must leave the trip early due to an exposure and necessary quarantine, will any of the activities be refundable? Has this been communicated to parent/guardians?
  • What is the plan for accommodations/hotel if any members of the group have to isolate for illness or quarantine during the trip, or after the planned last day of the trip? How will this be paid for, if needed? (see #5 for more information).

STOP:  If a group is not able to make a viable plan for these financial risks, consider rescheduling.

Activity considerations and trip logistics:

  • Is the trip primarily outdoor or indoor?
  • Is it possible to socially-distance from those outside the group, or will the group be visiting mostly crowded, indoor locations?
  • What are the sleeping, transportation, and eating arrangements?

STOP:  If a trip does not meet any particular requirements outlined in the GSWNY COVID-19 Guidelines   for these areas, consider rescheduling.

Illness, exposure, and quarantine considerations:

  • What is the immediate plan if a member of the trip exhibits COVID-19 symptoms? Will that person be immediately tested? Have parent/guardians given permission for this, and do trip leaders have tests on hand? Who covers the cost?
  • What is the next step for any individual who tests positive for COVID-19? Which adult(s) on the trip will supervise any participant who must be isolated for a positive case, and at what point (24/48 hrs?) must parents/guardians arrive on-site to take custody of their children?
  • Exposed individuals should wear a high-quality mask any time they are around others inside for 10 days after exposure. Individuals exposed should watch of symptoms, if symptoms arise they should test and if positive isolate immediately. Individuals should get tested at least 5 full days after their exposure. If they test negative they should continue precautions through day 10, if they test postive they should isolate immediately.
  • Do all participants and parent/guardians understand and agree with the above plans? Have parent/guardians been advised that they must be contactable during the entire trip and willing to finance their own travel to pick up their child?  If trip is international, does a parent/guardian of each child have an up-to-date passport?
  • What is the plan if adult chaperones fall ill?
    • Will the trip have additional adults beyond ratio-requirements? (Strongly recommended)
  • Will all adult chaperones be fully up to date on vaccines? (Strongly recommended. Not only does this decrease risk of illness, but vaccinated and boosted chaperones MAY be able to continue with the program if exposed; unvaccinated chaperones would have to quarantine.)
Reporting a Positive COVID-19 Test

In the event of a COVID-19 positive test result, contact Girl Scouts of WNY at the contact information below.

Due to health confidentiality laws, do NOT contact the parents or troop members. Promptly contact your council in this situation. This is important for medical confidentiality compliance.

Call Customer Care during business hours at 1.888.837.6410 or by email at or the Emergency line after hours at 1-800-882-9268.

council staff member and NOT volunteers, will be responsible for:

  • Confirming and tracing the positive tester,
  • Contacting the parents of anyone who may have been exposed (or other volunteers),
  • Notifying a facility where a troop has met, and
  • Alerting the state department of health.

Let other volunteers know that council staff, NOT volunteers, will notify parents and others about a positive test result and that the tester’s identity is confidential. Remember that girl and volunteer health information is private and strictly confidential and should be only shared on a need to know basis with a council staff member.

Thank you for all that you do, and please contact Customer Care if you have any questions: or call 1-888-837-6410. In an emergency, please call 1-800-882-9268.

Mask conversation starters

Supporting Our Children through Change

Our children are capable of tremendous resilience in the face of change. As we prepare to support them through the shift to a mask-optional environment, it is crucial that our Girl Scout families feel prepared to make decisions and are ready to model and provide suggested ways their girls can comfortably engage with others. Our council's goal is to create safe spaces for all of our girls, volunteers, members, and staff. We have included some conversation starters to help navigate our girls through this change.


Considerations for Families/Caregivers:

Share clearly what your expectations are around mask-wearing for your household and why. Our troop leaders and staff are not able to enforce individual mask-wearing expectations of girls and their families, so it will be important to share the why behind your approach with your girl before attending a troop meeting or event. Consider clear messaging such as:

  • “We feel that you should/should not wear masks right now because...”
  • "We expect that you will follow our expectations because...(share data or personal connections and reasoning)."

Share what other perspectives might be. Consider:

  • “Some girls or troop leaders may choose to still/not wear masks right now because we all have different and unique situations. Some have health concerns or different beliefs, and that is alright. We respect everyone's right to their own decisions.
  • Share that people may make different choices at different times based on their own unique circumstances. “Your friend may not wear a mask some days but may wear them other days. It is important to respect their personal choice and privacy on this.”

Focus on kindness and respect. Consider:

  • “We all want our Girl Scout community and spaces to be a place where everyone feels safe and valued.
  • “Sometimes we may not agree on different topics, but we can always be respectful.”
  • “You can still be friends or partner with others, even if you disagree about their masking choice right now

It may help to make connections with other medical/health circumstances that support a safe and functional day for individuals. Consider:

  • “Some friends and adults wear glasses/braces/hearing aids/etc.”
  • “Like anything else, we don’t make fun of people because of what they are wearing”

It may help to give some specific language they can use. Consider:

  • “What do we say when someone asks ‘Why are you wearing a mask?’ or ‘Why aren’t you wearing a mask?’”
  • “My family wants me to/My family told me I don’t need to.”
  • “My family is/is not wearing masks right now.”
  • “It’s a personal decision I/we have made.”
  • “Okay, thanks for understanding.”
  • “I respect your decision, and I hope that you can respect mine.”

Encourage our girls to talk to a trusted adult or troop leader if they are experiencing discomfort so that support can be provided and a sense of well-being can be restored.

This is a chance for our Girl Scout community to unite and move forward together. Kindness and respect will bring us through this next transition.

Exposure to COVID-19 is an inherent risk; any interaction with the general public poses an elevated risk of being exposed to COVD-19. Please note that the CDC advises that older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Each family should evaluate and assess their risk in determining whether or not to participate in in-person Girl Scout activities.