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Keeping Healthy and Happy During Cold and Flu Season

Safety First

Updated: March 19, 2020, 4:55 p.m.

3/19/2020 Update: 

We have instituted a curbside pick-up option at our Tampa Girl Scout Store as an alternative to shipping if you would like to receive your order quicker. This is available at our Tampa location only Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. To place an order for curbside pick-up, call or email the Tampa Store and pay over the phone (we are not accepting cash at this time). Once you arrive at the Tampa Leadership Center, give us a call and we will bring your items to your car.

3/18/2020 Update: 

In an abundance of caution and accepting the ability to model responsible behavior, GSWCF is transitioning to a predominantly remote workforce, effective March 19. We are still open for business - serving not just our members, but the community at large. All of our properties, including our camps, the Tampa Leadership center, and the Tampa and Wildwood Girl Scout Stores are closed to visitors. 

Our hours of operation continue to be 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday. We continue to be available through phone calls, emails, social media, and our website. 

At this time, all troops should cancel troop meetings based on federal guidance. We will soon be offering virtual Girl Scouting options on our website. We will update this blog with more information when it's available. 

We have also added text messaging to keep our members informed throughout this time. Text messaging is a simple way to stay updated on the latest from GSWCF, like the announcement of our new CEO (Mary Pat King) or the most recent council status on Covid-19.

To opt in, text BEPREPARED to (855) 980-0305. You can also opt in by logging into MyGS, clicking Family Profile, selecting edit, and then checking the box next to "text opt in". If you need assistance making the change to your status, contact our customer connections team.

3/16/2020 Update: 

The CDC  is recommending that organizations not hold large events for the next few weeks. To keep our members safe, GSWCF has decided to cancel council programming through April 30. This includes program events, events and activities at our camp properties, as well as troop meetings and sleepovers at the Tampa Leadership Center. We will be reaching out to members affected by these cancellations directly within the coming days with more information on refunds for all events and camp reservations that are impacted. We are actively working with our partners to determine our program offerings in May and beyond.

We are still working to make a decision about our Annual Meeting and Adult Awards Ceremony. We are trying to find the best way to hold our governance meeting and honor our amazing volunteers, while putting the safety of our volunteers and staff first.

While our camp properties will be closed until April 30, the Tampa Leadership Center and the Tampa Girl Scout Store will remain open for general business needs.   

We continue to carefully monitor health recommendations. We will continue to update this blog post as more information becomes available. 

3/13/2020 Post: 

As we are in the midst of the annual cold and flu season, which is particularly heightened this year with COVID-19 (coronavirus), we have compiled some general information about how to be prepared #LikeAGirlScout, as well as information on what the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida (GSWCF) is doing to manage activities and gatherings over the next few weeks.

There is nothing we take more seriously than the safety and wellbeing of our girls, volunteers and council staff and we will take all possible and appropriate measures to ensure girls continue to have a safe, fun, one-of-a-kind experience at Girl Scouts.

Note: we will keep this blog post updated as situations change, so please check back if you are looking for the most up-to-date information.

First and foremost, we advise that everyone follow the steps outlined by the CDC:

  • Clean your hands often- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact- Overall, it’s good practice to avoid handshakes and hugs with anyone over the next few weeks. It is especially crucial to avoid close contact with people who show visible signs of sickness (sneezing, runny nose, cough, red eyes, etc.).
  •  Stay home if you’re sick- Though we will certainly miss you, please stay home if you (or your girl) are sick and make getting well your top priority. It’s important that we all take personal responsibility and err on the side of safety for the benefit of our friends, family and community
  •  Cover coughs and sneezes- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. If surfaces are dirty, clean them with soap and water before using a commercial disinfectant (like Lysol wipes). Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface.

What does this mean for council programs and events?

At this time, GSWCF has no broad plans to cancel scheduled events, but are monitoring this situation and the response of local agencies and will act accordingly if that should change. We are also maintaining communication with our numerous program partners about their status. If we do decide to cancel events or receive cancellation notices from our partners, registrants for those events will be contacted directly.

FRIDAY UPDATE: We just received the news about public school closures through March 30. We will post information as soon as possible about our plans for council activites/properties from March 16-30 as soon as we have all details in place and will directly contact anyone who's plans are affected by changes. 

What about plans for girl travel and Destinations?

GSUSA is issuing regular guidance to council CEOs regarding travel, as this situation is developing. For travel with girls scheduled within the next 60 days, they strongly recommend that you examine each scheduled trip and determine on a case-by-case basis whether the trip should be cancelled or rescheduled. They recommend daily monitoring of updates from the CDC, U.S. Department of State, and state/local authorities. For any trip that does proceed, ensure to take every suggested precaution recommended by the CDC and U.S. Department of State in conjunction with all of our council's Travel/Trip guidelines in Safety Activity Checkpoints. Important: please note that if there is any girl travel scheduled in the next 60 days to a U.S. Department of State Level 3 location due to COVID-19 risk, the trip should immediately be cancelled or re-routed. The Department of State is also advising against travel on cruise ships, due to increased risk of infection.

What is being done at camp properties, the Leadership Center and vehicles?

Though our rangers already to a great job of keeping the camps clean and ready for visitors, we have increased our cleaning protocols to follow CDC guidelines by disinfecting with a bleach solution or Clorox wipes. This is being employed broadly and covers many common surfaces such as doorknobs and activity tables. Similarly, the GSWCF bus is being cleaned with Clorox wipes after each use.

Should I still hold troop meetings?

We are empowering our troop leaders and their Girl Scout families to make the best decision for their troop. If your troop continues to hold troop meetings, we’ve collected some ways to help your girls stay happy and healthy this flu season.

  1. Sing “Make New Friends” when you wash your hands!
    Singing the first two verses of “Make New Friends” will ensure that your girls are washing their hands long enough to reach all the places germs like to hide, like in between fingers and on the backs of your hands. Make sure you get under those fingernails too!

  2. Create a special greeting dance!
    Since hugs and handshakes can help germs transfer from one person to another, challenge your girls to create a unique troop greeting that uses elbow bumps, footshakes, or air-fives to say hello instead of hugs.

  3. Leave it better than you found it!
    Bring disinfecting wipes to every meeting and clean surfaces before girls arrive. When you’re done with your meeting, have the girls help you clean and disinfect any touched surfaces like tables, chairs, or craft supplies.

  4. Cover your sneeze with a bandanna (or a dab)!
    A sustainable option for sneezing and coughing into disposable tissues is your trusty bandanna. If girls don’t have their bandannas with them, encourage them to dab when they sneeze or cough (vampire sneezing).

  5. Avoid Snaccidents.
    For your troop’s snack time, bring items that are individually wrapped and ready to share. Items like veggie trays and fruit salad can be hard to keep free of communal germs.

  6. True friends are never apart. Maybe in distance, but never in heart.
    Encourage troop members and volunteers to stay home when they’re not feeling well. You can offer badge work to do from home or even FaceTime them during the troop meeting to keep her engaged with your troop.

For additional information and resources about COVID-19, we recommend the following: