The Risk Management Committee of the VAC, headed by Chairperson, Stacey Dennee, met on July 31, 2020 to review all of the information available to us and address certain questions and concerns that have come from parents and volunteers. Following are the policies, regulations, and recommendations associated with this third phase of re-opening. A reminder: policies and regulations are absolutes and cannot be broken; recommendations are the best advice we can give at this time and should be followed if at all possible.
The third phase relates directly to meetings facilitated by both Cub Scout packs and Scouts BSA Troops. Venturing Crews and Sea Scout Ships would be included in this group. (Note: the original Re-opening Plan letter was published on May 9, 2020. Those policies related to Scouts BSA, Sea Scout, and Venturing meetings remain without change.)
- Local units are chartered to the BSA and must ahere to BSA policies, rules, and regulations.
- Local units are chartered through the local council, the Voyageurs Area Council, and must adhere to VAC policies, rules, and regulations.
- As citizens of the United States and, in particular, the state we reside in, we are subject to official standards as set by those government officials who have authority to set policy. This may be applicable to county and local governments as well.
- Additionally, local units are chartered to local organizations. Units are also subject to restrictions placed on them by their Chartering Organization.
- The responsibility for managing the health and appropriateness of a Scout, Scouter, or family member in allowing participation in meetings and activities lies with the leadership of the unit – with primary responsibility for each child resting with the parent or guardian.
- Safety is first before all other considerations.
- NEW – Cub Scout Pack and Dens, when meeting outside, will continue to do activities in “pods” of no more than 10 Scouts per pod and four pods in the same activity area. (Parents and Leaders, not active in the particular game or activity, may assist and not be counted toward the limit of 10.)
- NEW – Scouts BSA Troops and Patrols, when meeting outside, will continue to do activities in “pods” of no more than 10 Scouts per pod and four pods in the same activity area. (Parents and Leaders, not active in the particular game or activity, may assist and not be counted toward the limit of 10.)
- These regulations are the same for Venturing Crews and Sea Scout Ships.
- NEW – Beginning on Aug. 15, 2020 Scout Units may begin some meetings indoors in buildings approved by their Chartered Organization and Unit Committee. Indoor meetings and activities will be limited to no more than 25 total persons in any given room space – regardless of the size of the room. Additionally, the room size will dictate how may people may be there. All participants, both adult and youth, must be able to practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet and obey government mandates of wearing a face covering (unless specifically exempted by rule).
- When meeting indoors – Scouts and Scouters are to stay with the group they are assigned to. They are not to “float” back and forth between rooms, thus nullifying any distancing protections put in place.
- The unit is to provide an adequate amount of hand sanitizer or hand washing space and require all participants to use them. The unit is also to provide disinfectant for surfaces.
- NEW – When Scouts or Scout Units meet or use indoor spaces of public accommodation (grocery stores, schools, malls, gymnasiums, etc.) they are to obey the specific rules set by the ownership or management of the location. Regardless of their rules, Scout Units are not permitted to be any more liberal in the number of participants than the rules outlined above.
- NEW – When the unit is traveling to a location outside of the Voyageurs Area Council or that is controlled by some other Council, business, or entity – the rules regarding transportation that are in effect for that organization are the rules that should be followed.
- NEW – When travelling to VAC properties, Scouts are to be transported by someone in their own family group that lives with them. As a change, a legal parent or guardian may approve another family to transport their Scout. This approval has to be cleared with unit leadership and noted in the log for the meeting or activity. A Scout may not approve them-self or just decide to ride with another family. In every case, BSA standards for transportation in the Guide to Safe Scouting must be strictly adhered to.
- There are to be no “pot luck” meals for the time being. Scouts and Scouters must provide their own food. If community food is provided it must come from a single source (Pizza comes to mind) and be handled by someone that is wearing disposable gloves. If cooking is part of the program, the participant must handle their own food after it is cooked.
- If a Scout or Scouting family is unable or unwilling to follow social distancing rules they will be asked to leave the meeting or activity.
- Post signs at the location you use that encourage frequent hand washing, use of sanitizer, and other good hygiene methods. Remind participants that the signs are reminders only and that they do not take the place of policies or regulations.
- Have a check-in procedure that allows for screening of participants. Ask generic health related questions and use your best judgement when someone seems under the weather. (Note: be careful to not be invasive into the personal life of the participant.) Appropriate questions include:
- Have you done any traveling where you might have come into contact with anyone that has a communicable disease, including Covid-19?
- Have you had any prolonged close contact (within 6 feet) with anyone that could be infectious?
- Have you been ill, or do you feel in any way under the weather now?
- Have you been advised to self isolate at any point since mid-March?
- Do you feel like you pose no risk to anyone else here or anyone they might be in contact with at home?
- NEW – Use part of your first meeting together to openly discuss the pandemic and how it has affected your Scouts. Discuss new rules and how your unit will meet all the requirements and keep the Scouts safe and protected.
- At all times remember and practice the Scout Oath and Law. Regardless of how an individual feels about what is going on in the world around us they must feel safe and welcome. Personal protection practices, though they may differ, must not become a source of contention or bullying.
Here are some examples related to the new regulations and recommendations:
A church sponsors your unit. They agree that the troop can begin meeting at the Church again. The Church has multiple meeting rooms that you are approved to use. The largest can hold up to 25 people while following distancing rules. The other rooms are smaller and have a reduced capacity. You have about 40 Scouts and about 10 adults that attend troop meetings. Multiple rooms would have to be arranged to accommodate the entire troop. The troop may not meet, even for opening announcements, all in one room.
The local grocery store has approved your Scouts to sell Trails End Popcorn in their entry. The Scouts must maintain distancing from each other (inside the store and out) and wear face coverings while inside – and must follow any rules the store has for their presence.
Your pack is going on a field trip to the Zoo, which means travel to another town. Each Scout is to be transported by a family member, unless a legal parent or guardian specifically approves another family to transport their child. The unit leadership has to be notified and keep notes of all such situations. (This relates to contact tracing and other issues with Covid-19.) In every case BSA policies as stated in the Guide to Safe Scouting and Youth Protection Training have to be followed.
Please note: State and Local governments may have more liberal or non-restrictive rules in place at any given time than we do. So long as we are not breaking any rules or regulations ourselves, we reserve the right to pace our re-opening as we see fit and as we are prepared to do.
Lastly, please note that several calls have come to the Council Service Center expressing concern about leaders not following the rules “when they think no one is watching”. People have asked what the consequences are for such behavior. Scouting has long been known as an “ON MY HONOR” organization. The first point of the Scout Law is Trustworthy. We expect all members of the staff, volunteers, and participating parents to be trustworthy and to understand that they are setting an example for every Scout in their care.
Our ideals, morals, and ethics are being reinforced by your behavior. Make sure it is appropriate.
Michael Jenkins – Scout Executive
Stacey Dennee – Council Risk Management Chair