In response to rules and regulations published by government officials, accompanied by standards of work and occupational safety, the Voyageurs Area Council has prepared a plan for re-opening the business of the Council and re-starting programs in local units.
In publishing this document, this plan becomes the standard operating procedure for the Council and is binding upon all applicable parties. Employees, volunteers, Scouts, and chartering organizations providing Scouting opportunities to families are expected to abide by these rules and principles.
General and specific guidance has been received from multiple sources including, but not limited to, the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Centers for Disease Control, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the state governments of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. As we are a legal entity of the State of Minnesota, we must adhere to rules and regulations set forth from the leaders of that state as well as any additional orders that affect municipalities where we have properties and programs.
The bulk of specific recommendations for this process come from the booklet “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for Covid-19” which is published by The Department of Health and Human Services. We regularly review information from the following websites, www.osha.gov, www.cdc.gov, and www.cdc.gov/niosh for updated information or resources.
The Voyageurs Area Council will follow a four step process to re-open the Council and get units back to full-functioning programs and activities. As we progress from Step 1 to Step 4 we will send out specific communications to our people and to the public. We will use our email system, telephone, text messaging, social networking, website management, and public media to provide notification.
This step involves bringing Council employees back to the Council Service Center to work. Currently they are on a “work-at-home” and “shelter-in-place” order.
Employees will be notified that they are to return to the normal practice of coming to the Council Service Center each business day to perform their regular duties just as they did before Covid-19.
This step does not include re-opening the Council Service Center for regular business.
Some principles and rules apply to bringing the employees back to the Council Service Center for their regular work duties.
- According to the CDC and OSHA pyramid of risk, the Voyageurs Area Council Service Center is at the lowest level of risk related to the actual work environment.
- Our building is already conducive to social distancing for employees.
- We are prepared to keep surfaces clean and follow rules of respecting other employees’ equipment and personal work space.
- The doors to the building will remain locked at all times to outside traffic.Employees can come and go as they need.
- No appointments will be granted to anyone for in-person meetings or cooperative work in Step 1.
- Vendors and others may enter the lobby (outside doors) and leave materials for the staff, but may not enter the building.
- Volunteer committees will not yet be allowed to have in-person meetings at the Service Center.
- Partner businesses or agencies that have approval to meet at the Service Center will not yet be allowed to return.
- Cub Scout Packs and Scouts BSA Troops will not yet be allowed to have in-person meetings or activities.(The rules for Explorer Posts have to be governed separately.)
- This step involves loosening restrictions on access to the Council Service Center and to council employees.Notification will be sent out that the Council Service Center is now “open for business”. This step does not include re-opening Cub Scout Packs and Scouts BSA Troops for in-person meetings and activities.Some principles that apply:
- Volunteers and vendors will need an appointment to enter the building.This is a safety factor for our employees.The safety of our volunteers and Scouts is likewise of utmost importance. When setting an appointment you will be asked a few questions related to your personal health and contact with others who may be infected with Covid-19. Note: almost all employees of the Council are in special health risk categories as are many of our family members. Our safety is an imperative.
- Those with appointments will be asked to wear a face covering while they are in the building.(Note: where we are in the low-risk category, hand-made face coverings are acceptable.)
- Employees will also wear face coverings when meeting with guests.
- Hand sanitizer will be provided and guests will be asked to wash their hands thoroughly before touching anything in the Scout Shop or the copy machine, or any other equipment and supplies.
- There may be a limit to the number of people allowed in the building at any one time.That information will be posted on the door.
- Certain areas of the Council Service Center will be off limits to anyone except employees.
- This step is the first step in removing restrictions to in-person meetings. Notifications will be sent specifically to Scout units that they may begin the process of gathering their Scouts and families together for programs and activities.
- Notifications will include any remaining restrictions or guidance on how many people are allowed to gather in one place at one time.We will follow government restrictions.
- Council, District, and unit meetings and activities will be re-scheduled, re-opened, or otherwise planned in accordance with the loosening of government restrictions on public gatherings.
- Step 3 may have several phases as the number of people allowed to gather may go from 10 to 20 to 50 and so forth.We will keep pace with those guidelines.
- Those individuals and families that continue to have concerns over health issues and risks will be respected and will not be coerced into doing anything they may see as a danger to them personally.
- District or Unit leaders that may disagree with policies or procedures are not free to defy the policies just because they disagree.Individuals will be encouraged to meet with Council leadership about their concerns.Specific situations, such as a particularly hard hit county or neighborhood, may be handled differently depending on the situation.
- Outside groups that have an arrangement with the Council will be notified that they may begin using the Council Service Center again following specific guidelines and regulations.
- Council committees will be notified that they may begin using the Council Service Center again following specific guidelines and regulations.
- The Council Service Center will be set up to promote good heath, social distancing, and safety for all who enter.
This step is when we give the “all clear”.
Expectations are that when we get to Step 4, either Covid-19 will have been eradicated or there will be enough trust in treatments and prevention to go back to doing business essentially the way it was done before the outbreak.
This step may not come for some time after Step 3, but will be communicated the same way we have the rest of the plan.
For each step we believe these are minimal safety standards. In all steps, individuals are also to exercise their own judgment to protect themselves if they feel that additional safeguards beyond those mandated in this plan are appropriate. Our employees and other users of the facility will at all times honor the right of any individual to be more stringent in their personal protection than these minimum standards require. “A Scout is Kind” should be our guide in these times.
We reserve the right to roll back to a prior step or steps if conditions warrant a return to more stringent safety requirements including, if necessary, the right to return to full closure. We reserve the right to update and revise this plan as necessary as recommendations from governmental agencies evolve during this pandemic.
Michael Jenkins – Scout Executive
Mike Cooper – Council President
Bob Woodke – Council Commissioner