Lynne Lawson Fugate
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians
GSCSA Addresses COVID-19 Concerns (March 13, 2020)
Dear Girl Scouts,
As stated in yesterday’s update, we are monitoring the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation on a daily basis. Over the past 24 hours local and federal health organizations have recommended we all make a concerted effort to mitigate the transmission of the virus by limiting contact and avoiding large gatherings. In an effort to be good citizens, we have an obligation to our community and our members to do all that we can to limit the spread of coronavirus, even if we as individuals are not at risk of serious illness. The goal is to keep those who are most vulnerable with chronic conditions safe and virus free and to avoid overtaxing our healthcare system. In order to follow guidelines and recommendations from the CDC and our local health departments, we are taking the following steps:
- We are extending the Girl Scout Cookie Program through at least April 5, which is an additional two weeks, in an effort to allow troops to sell their remaining inventory. This will continue to be evaluated and updated as necessary.
- We do strongly recommend that troops cancel booth sales previously scheduled for this weekend and through March 22, 2020. However, if you wish to proceed with your scheduled booths, you may do so at your own discretion and using your best judgment.
- Cookie cupboards may still be open, but you should check your local cupboard location hours.
- The ACH date will also be adjusted to accommodate this extension.
- We will issue a separate communication specific to the Cookie Program with more details on changes to the program.
- A staff member will reach out to each troop over the next week to learn more about cases not yet sold by each troop.
- All council-sponsored girl and volunteer programs, trainings, and events are cancelled through March 31, 2020. We will issue refunds to all individuals and groups scheduled to attend programs, trainings, and events through this date.
- We strongly recommend cancelling all troop meetings, service unit events, and other volunteer-led programs through March 31, 2020.
- All camps will be closed through April 15. We will be postponing staff training and cancelling Love Your Camp at Camp Tanasi. If you have reservations scheduled for April 3-12, we will be processing your refund. We will continue to monitor the situation and will update you on cancellation and/or postponement options at least one week prior to your event. Our camp team is following heightened disinfection protocols at all camp properties, pending the availability of disinfectant products.
- International travel: The CDC continues to update recommendations to avoid international travel to certain regions, including China, Korea, Iran, Europe, Hong Kong, and Japan. The CDC also recommends avoiding cruise ship travel worldwide, particularly for vulnerable populations. Because the path of coronavirus infection remains uncertain, no international travel, including cruises, will be approved for Girl Scout groups through April 15, 2020. Groups with existing international travel reservations are being informed that these trips are no longer approved by Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians. Groups who choose to travel without council authorization will not be covered by Girl Scouts’ insurance and travel at their own risk. In order to financially protect yourself, we always recommend purchasing travel insurance for any type of travel in the event of unforeseen issues that prevent or interrupt travel plans.
- Domestic travel: Avoiding domestic, non-essential travel is one step that we can all take to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many businesses and nonprofit organizations, including Girl Scouts of the USA and our local council, have restricted business travel for employees in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In line with this guidance, no trips will be approved for Girl Scout groups through April 15, 2020. Groups who choose to travel without council authorization will not be covered by Girl Scouts’ insurance and travel at their own risk. This includes trips within Council geography.
- Council gatherings: In response to recent CDC guidance that recommends adjusting or postponing large school gatherings, we have made the decision to postpone or cancel all large council events through April 15. This impacts Cookie Creations, previously scheduled for March 24, 2020 at The Turnbull Building in Chattanooga. This event has been cancelled, and those who have already purchased tickets will receive a full refund. We have been informed by Southern Adventist University that they have closed their campus, therefore our South area High Awards Ceremony previously scheduled for March 22 has been postponed. We are working on finding an alternative date and will let attendees know as soon as a new date is confirmed. For large events taking place after April 15, decisions to postpone or cancel any events will be made a week prior to the event or sooner if possible. For Girl Scout events managed by outside vendors (i.e. Girl Scout Sleepover at Wonderworks) please check with the vendors directly regarding cancellations or refunds.
In addition, all small council gatherings conducted by staff or program partners are cancelled through March 31, 2020. This includes Love Your Camp at Camp Tanasi, Environment Awareness with UTK Kappa Delta, Using the Microbit for Biometrics and Introduction to VR with Oak Ridge Computer Science Girls, UTC Kappa Delta Campus Tour, Home Scientist Brownie Badge Workshop with Pure Genius, Cooking for Badges: Trying New Cuisines with Healthy Hands Cookie, Girl Scout Day at the Chattanooga Zoo, and Ghost Hunter Tour with Haunted Knoxville Ghost Tours. An effort will be made to reschedule these activities where possible, but please understand that some may be unable to be rescheduled.
- All service centers and retail shops are closed to the public through March 31, 2020. This will be reevaluated on a regular basis and we will communicate any changes on our web site and social channels.
- GSCSA staff will reach out to all troops to discuss cookie status and any relevant trip or program cancellations.
- Our helpline is open! You may still contact us with questions or concerns during regular helpline hours at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-474-1912.
These are difficult times and we are all doing our best to make responsible decisions while keeping health and safety as the top priority. We appreciate your efforts and understanding.
Yours in Girl Scouting,
Lynne Lawson Fugate