Last week the Governor of Minnesota issued a new Emergency Executive Order, 21-07.  This order made some significant changes to existing protocol that can affect what we are doing in Scouting.  The order became effective as of Feb. 13, 2021.

The order states that, with the exception of the circumstances listed below, all other provisions of the previous order currently in place will remain in place.  The changes we can see that would affect Scouting relate to “celebrations and receptions”.  Scouting examples would include recognition events and celebrations such as Eagle Scout Courts of Honor, Blue and Gold Banquets, Recognition Dinners, and other similar events.

The order states that indoor venues may “host private celebrations, receptions, parties, or other private events” where a Covid-19 Preparedness Plan is in place and be limited to a room capacity of 25% with a maximum of no more than 50 people.  Occupancy of outdoor spaces is not to exceed 250 people. 

Other provisions of this executive order do not seem to be applicable to most Scouting activities.  Commercial venues and gymnasiums where Scouts may visit are covered by the order and will establish their own conditions whereby Scouts may participate in activities at their location.

In accordance with these changes, and in compliance with other state’s regulations, we are approving a change in these specific circumstances for Scouting.  All VAC Scouting units may now begin to plan and hold courts-of-honor, blue and gold banquets, recognition dinners, etc. in accordance with the rules listed above in the third paragraph.

All other Council Scouting protocols currently in place will remain in place.

Any changes presuppose the continued exercise of good judgement and following good hygiene practices:

Rules for travel, camping, and use of Council properties and buildings remain as currently issued. 

Local laws and restrictions may be more strict than these guidelines, which would supersede them.  Additionally, localized outbreaks may occur.  As these occur, we would expect local Scouting leaders to use their best judgement about limiting meetings and activities until the threat from the outbreak has passed.

We want to express our thanks to all our units, Scouts, and families for the proper care you all have exercised in keeping everyone safe and healthy.  We continue pray and hope for significant changes that will allow all of us to put the strictest regulations behind us and return to the great outdoors where we might meet one another and have some great Scouting adventures.

Sincerely,

Michael Jenkins, Scout Executive

Stacey Dennee, Council Risk Management Chair

In communication with the Council Risk Management Committee and unit leaders around the council we believe it is important to publish an update our protocols regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.  To date, there have been no outbreaks of Covid-19 attributed to any Scouting activity in the Voyageurs Area Council and we want to maintain that level of vigilance.

The Governors of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan continue to monitor the situation and, at present, have maintained executive privilege to impose restrictions on the public to maintain order and seek for the best good of the citizens and states.  As vaccines, therapeutics, and other treatments become more widely available and used we expect these restrictions to lessen.

Since the VAC is headquartered in the state of Minnesota, we are under all legal obligations to that state.  This is important in determining our continued course of action, rules and regulations.  The leadership of the Council is concerned about maintaining strict organization and in not trying to regulate through three sets of rules or circumstances.  The rules and regulations we have in place are intended for every unit in the VAC regardless of whether they are in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Michigan.

As a reminder of where we stand:

In our communication with the Department of Health the following document was referenced:  https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/schools/socialdistance.pdf .  The document is dated 12/16/2020.  Page 3 of the document states:  “Within the program, create consistent groupings of the same staff, volunteers, and participants.  The maximum number of participants is 15 people per group or room for indoor and outdoor activities.”  This is the operational guideline we would like all Scouting units in the Voyageurs Area Council to follow.

Additionally, it is important to recognize that all of the standard protections remain in place.

Namely:

Rules for travel, camping, and use of Council properties and buildings remain as currently issued. 

As an addition to these rules and regulations, we want to allow for special opportunities for promoting Scouting and it aims and methods if they can be done within governmental guidelines and can be done safely.  If any given unit has a plan to hold such and activity, and the activity falls outside of the current rules and regulations of the Council, and the unit believes that guidelines and rules specific to where their unit is chartered are significantly different and would allow for the activity – the following must happen at least two weeks in advance of the activity.

We want to express our thanks to all our units, Scouts, and families for the proper care you all have exercised in keeping everyone safe and healthy.  We continue pray and hope for significant changes that will allow all of us to put the strictest regulations behind us and return to the great outdoors where we might meet one another and have some great Scouting adventures.

Sincerely,

Michael Jenkins, Scout Executive

Stacey Dennee, Council Risk Management Chair

On December 16, 2020, the Governor of Minnesota once again addressed executive orders related to Covid-19 restrictions, policies, and protocols.  We have reviewed all of the information presented and the supporting documents.  Additionally, we have spoken directly with a representative from the Minnesota Department of Health.

In our communication with the Department of Health the following document was referenced:  https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/schools/socialdistance.pdf .  The document is dated 12/16/2020.  Page 3 of the document states:  “Within the program, create consistent groupings of the same staff, volunteers, and participants.  The maximum number of participants is 15 people per group or room for indoor and outdoor activities.”  This is the operational guideline we would like all Scouting units in the Voyageurs Area Council to follow.

Additionally, it is important to recognize that all of the standard protections remain in place.

Namely:

Rules for travel, camping, and use of Council properties and buildings remain as currently issued.  In the November 19, 2020 letter from the Council we outlined use of the Council Service Center.  Those rules will remain in place through the extension of the Governors order which is January 10, 2021.

Lastly, we recognize that we have Scouting units that fall under the jurisdiction of Wisconsin and Michigan.  Some of the local rules are different.  We are asking that all of our units continue to follow a common set of standards for the protection and safety of all of our Scouts and their families.

Happy Holidays to all!

Sincerely,

Michael Jenkins, Scout Executive

Stacey Dennee, Council Risk Management Chair

On November 18, 2020, the Governor of Minnesota issued a new executive order related to Covid-19 protocols. 

We have reviewed that order and the accompanying documents and support materials related to it and have the following updates on our policies to share with the Council.

Please be advised that the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies that are tracking data on the pandemic have issued warnings to the public because of dramatic rise in the number of reported cases of infection.  These warnings and advisories are what are driving government officials to issue new executive orders.  We are interested in doing all we can to support the general public health and be a leading institution in honoring and obeying the law.

You may look at the attached link to see what has been said about “Youth and Student Programs”. https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/schools/socialdistance.pdf

While we are confident that our regulations and policies to this point have been in keeping with public policy and guidelines, and we are confident that those practices have allowed us to be without any infection events so far, we recognize that now is not a time to be divisive.  We must be humble and participate in changes for the public good.

The new order issued by the govenor of Minnesota is in place for the next four weeks.  That time frame leads into the Christmas holiday.  For all practical purposes we would be talking about programming, meetings, and events for the rest of the 2020 calendar year.

Please be advised:

 Additionally:

We are confident that these challenges will pass.  We look forward to exciting new opportunities in 2021 and to putting this pandemic behind us.  Let’s do all we can in the here and now to be a good community partner and to support our local leaders.  Let’s show that we are prepared and that we have learned to do hard things.

We wish you all our best.  We are interested in the Council success, in your success, and in what is best for our communities and we are praying for you.

Sincerely,

Michael Jenkins, Council Scout Executive

Stacey Dennee, Council Risk Management Chair

Covid Protocol Update -2

The Governors of both Minnesota and Wisconsin have addressed new Covid-19 concerns this week in light of the significant rise in positive cases and hospitalizations due to the virus. The Governor of Minnesota announced new guidelines related to “social” gatherings, and the Governor of Wisconsin talked about responsibilities citizens have to help slow the spread of the virus. He made some recommendations about how citizens should act and what each person and family should consider.

We were very interested in the specifics of these communications and their collective impact on Scouting here in the VAC. Additionally, many of you have contacted us to inquire about how this would impact your Scouting in your Pack or Troop.

Here is a link to the state website regarding protocols for “Youth and Student Programs”:
https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/schools/socialdistancepdf. Having discussed this issue with leaders from other councils in Minnesota and Wisconsin, we believe that the specific rules related to
Scouting programs have not changed.


In light of that information, we want to suggest a few things for your consideration:
• You should always start by considering how an activity or program will affect the health and safety of your Scouts and the people they interact with (extended family and friends).
• You should continue to monitor temperatures, contact tracing issues, current health, and any other fact that may lead to a Scout participating or choosing to self isolate.
• You should continue to follow all hygiene issues that have been magnified by this pandemic: distancing, washing of hands, disinfecting of surfaces, the wearing of face coverings, etc.

Additionally, we are going to require that units not serve food or drink indoors at meetings or activities for the time being. Cooking and having food outdoors can still be a part of your activity. This will lessen the need to remove face coverings in group settings indoors.

Lastly, it is our hope that you all will be blessed with health, safety, and the knowledge that your Scouting family is with you. A hallmark of Scouting is that Scouts learn to do hard things. We will all admit we are learning at an accelerated pace right now.

All my best,

Michael Jenkins – Scout Executive

Covid-19 Protocol Update 11.13.20

Here are 3 important documents that you must have at every event, meeting, or outing in Scouting held at a VAC property. Thank you for doing your part to keep everyone safe.

Directions For Use

COVID Health Check Questionnaire

VAC Event Health Check Report (Revised)

As we approach the coldest months of the year it seems appropriate to give you all an update as to where we stand on meetings and activities.

The most recent Covid-19 letters – the letter produced on August 4, 2020 regarding re-opening plan step 3 and phase 3, and the memo produced on August 21 clarify the number allowed inside at 15 and not 25 – are still in effect for units chartered and meeting in Minnesota and Michigan.  Those letters can be reviewed on the Council website at www.vac-bsa.org.

The governor of Wisconsin has recently changed the rules related to indoor meetings in that state.  For units that are chartered and meet in Wisconsin the following regulations apply:  1.) If the building has a known capacity (defined as in the definition of the facility on file with the municipality), you may meet in up to a 25% capacity of the facility, still obeying distancing guidelines.  2.) If the building does not have a known capacity, you are limited to meetings of 10 people or fewer.  This policy currently has an expiration date of November 6, 2020.

These are government guidelines and we cannot be less restrictive than these.

Another subject of concern is the use of Council properties during the winter.  We understand that many units want to use our properties for outings.

We recognize that we cannot anticipate every possible scenario that may arise in these unusual circumstances.  We are doing our best to stay aprised of new developments, rules, and regulations and share that information with you.

We hope that you have found ways to use these circumstances to teach Scouting ethics and ideals.  There are many opportunities in front of us and we can become an even greater organization if we take advantage of them.

At all times, remember the Scout Oath and Law and be diligent in the way you follow them.

Sincerely,

Michael Jenkins, Scout Executive                                

Stacey Dennee, Council Risk Management Chair

In our last Covid-19 letter we outlined regulations to be followed to begin meeting inside with your Scouts again.  In the fourth bullet point under regulations we stated that “indoor meetings and activities will be limited to no more than 25 persons…”.  We have received some feedback and phone calls from concerned parents and leaders that this does not match government guidelines for the State of Minnesota.

A further review has led to a need for us to amend this statement.  Following guidelines set by the Governor of Minnesota, we will change the number of allowed participants to 15.  We know this may further complicate issues of meeting together and make it more challenging for you.  We are working to be sure we follow all applicable rules and guidelines, which can sometimes be difficult to interpret. 

If we can help you with ideas as to how to meet given the restrictions that are in place, please feel free to call us and ask for assistance.

Sincerely,

Michael Jenkins, Scout Executive                                              

Stacey Dennee, Council Risk Management Chair

Covid-19 Memo 8.21.20

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.)

Policies:

Regulations:

Recommendations:

Here are some examples related to the new regulations and recommendations:

Example 1:         

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.

Example 2:         

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.

Example 3:         

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.

Sincerely,

Michael Jenkins – Scout Executive                                                     

Stacey Dennee – Council Risk Management Chair

Step 3 Phase 3 pdf

The four-step plan for re-opening the Voyageurs Area Council to in person meetings and events does not specifically address issues that may be particular to overnight camping at facilities that are not part of the council.

This document will address rules and regulations, which are subject to change as government policies change, for overnight camping.  

The rules and regulations addressed here are relative to that re-opening date and will be in force until such official communication from the Council changes or updates those rules.

This addendum is for units that are participating in overnight camping on their own at a facility that is not part of the Voyageurs Area Council.

For those units attending a nationally accredited long-term summer camp at another council’s property or national high adventure base, you will adhere to the guidelines set for by that camp while you attend that camp to keep everyone safe. This included travel to and from the camp.

Rules for Use: (beginning July 1, 2020)

Here are the recommendations from the CDC regarding travel:

Follow state and local travel restrictions. For up-to-date information and travel guidance, check the state or local health department where you are, along your route, and at your planned destination. While you are traveling, it is possible a state or local government may put into place travel restrictions, such as stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, mandated quarantines upon arrival, or even state border closures. Plan to keep checking for updates as you travel.

Any one of these rules or restrictions may be updated at any time.  Please refer to this document on the

Sincerely,

Brad Olson – District Director,

Mike Cooper – Council President                     

Stacey Dennee – Council Risk Management Chair

         

Covid-19 Re-opening Addendum (6.26.20)

VAC Event Health Check Report