Unit Meetings and Scouting Activities
For Counties In the “Green” Phase
July 7, 2020

Dear Chester County Council Scouting Family,

As counties served by the Chester County Council have moved from the “yellow” to the “green” phase of the Governor’s plan to re-open Pennsylvania, we know that some units are eager to resume Scouting activities. We have assembled guidance for Scouting units to follow as they consider holding in-person meetings, activities, service projects, and other Scouting events. 

Although some Scouting meetings and events may restart, the relaxing of restrictions is not a return to pre-COVID-19 normalcy . The items outlined below are guidelines and steps to guide units concerning meetings and other Scouting activities. These guidelines draw heavily from information provided by the  National Council of the Boy Scouts of America , the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , and the  Process to Reopen Pennsylvania .  
As units plan to resume meetings, service projects, camping, and all other official Scouting activities, adult leaders should review the BSA’s Restart Scouting Checklist .”

Before any in-person meetings can begin, units must obtain permission from your chartered organization and meeting host (if different than your chartered organization).

Guidelines for In-Person Unit Meetings During “Green” Phase:

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated  guidelines for youth participating in outdoor activities  on June 9 th . Governor Wolf also released  guidelines for return to sports  which have been adapted for Scouting purposes. 

  • Identify participants who fall under the CDC’s group of higher-risk individuals. Notify all participants about the risks of participating since COVID-19 exposure cannot be eliminated.
  • The PA Department of Health recommends holding meetings outside if possible. It is easier to sanitize because there are fewer surfaces for the virus to live on. 
  • With the approval of your chartered organization, units may hold meetings with up to 250 total in attendance. In most cases, this means that unit meetings and events may be scheduled with appropriate adherence to the other guidelines below. Units must keep in mind that indoor facilities can be used at no more than 75% capacity. Units should make sure to discuss plans and arrangements before scheduling large meetings or events. For example, if a meeting room has an occupancy of 100, during the “green” phase only 75 people could attend the meeting.
  • Disinfect/sanitize the meeting area before and after unit functions, including tables, chairs, doorknobs, restrooms, and other surfaces. Make sure you coordinate with your Chartered Organization or the meeting host location to follow all appropriate cleaning procedures.
  • Question everyone before they enter the meeting location regarding fever, chills, or other COVID-19 symptoms. Do not allow anyone with these symptoms to enter.
  • Maintain social distancing (minimum of 6 feet).
  • All attendees must wear face coverings during regular Scout meetings.
  • Hand-washing facilities, such as restrooms, must be readily available for participants at a Scouting event or meeting. If hand-washing facilities are unavailable, hand sanitizer should be readily available. 

Please note that as of July 1, 2020, PA Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine expanded PA’s mandatory mask-wearing order to include outdoor settings where individuals “are unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet from individuals who are not members of their household.”

Special Considerations for Camping and Outdoor Activities
Guiding Principles to Keep in Mind During Outdoor Activities
The more people Scouts interact with, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.
  • Lowest Risk: Small groups of campers stay together all day, each day. Campers remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects. Outside activities are prioritized. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., city, town, county, community).
  • More Risk: Campers mix between groups but remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects. Outdoor activities are prioritized. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
  • Even More Risk: Campers mix between groups and do not remain spaced apart. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
  • Highest Risk: Campers mix between groups and do not remain spaced apart. All campers are NOT from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
We know that many units are eager to get outside and camp again. The good news is that in most cases, Scouts can participate in camping activities as long as they follow the below guidelines:
Face coverings:
  • Teach and reinforce the use of cloth face coverings. Face coverings may be challenging for campers (especially younger campers) to wear in all-day settings such as camp. To comply with PA’s expanded mask-wearing order, face coverings MUST be worn by Scout Leaders, other adults, and campers in outdoor settings where individuals are “unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet from individuals who are not members of their household.” Information should be provided to staff and campers on proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings.
  • Note: Cloth face coverings should not be placed on:
  1. Babies or children younger than 2 years old
  2. Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious
  3. Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without help
  • Cloth face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms. Cloth face coverings are not surgical masks, respirators, or other medical personal protective equipment.
As the PA guidelines require for coaches of youth sports, Scout Leaders and other adults should wear face coverings at all times, unless doing so jeopardizes their health.
Sleeping Arrangements:
  • Align mats or beds so that campers and leaders/parents sleep head-to-toe at least 6 feet apart.
  • Add physical barriers, such as plastic flexible screens, between bathroom sinks and between beds, especially when they cannot be at least 6 feet apart.   
  • Monitor and enforce social distancing and healthy hygiene behaviors throughout the day and night.
  • Encourage Scouts and participants to avoid placing toothbrushes or toiletries directly on counter surfaces.
  • Clean and disinfect bathrooms regularly (e.g., in the morning and evening, after times of heavy use). Develop a schedule for routine cleaning and disinfection.
  • Ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaners and disinfectants, including storing products securely away from younger Scouts or young children.
  • Limit the use of carpools or other ride sharing. When riding in an automobile to a Scouting event, encourage Scouts to ride to the event only with persons living in their same household. 
  • When transporting Scouts, drivers should practice all safety actions and protocols as indicated (e.g. hand hygiene, cloth face coverings).
  • Discourage the sharing of items that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect.
  • Keep each camper’s belongings separated from others.
  • Ensure adequate supplies to minimize the sharing of high-touch materials to the extent possible (e.g., assign supplies or equipment to a single camper), or limit the use of supplies and equipment to one group of campers at a time and clean and disinfect between use.
  • Avoid sharing electronic devices, toys, books, and other games or learning aids.
Food and Drink:
  • Space seating at least 6 feet apart.
  • To the extent that it is practical, all Scouts and leaders are to bring their own water and drinks to Scout activities. Water coolers for commonly sharing through disposable cups could contribute to the spread of COVID-19 and their use should be avoided unless absolutely necessary for storing water. Units must strictly limit the number of people touching the cooler and practice good hand hygiene when dispensing water from coolers (e.g., set specific water refill breaks and have one adult wearing gloves be responsible for pushing the button/opening the valve on the water cooler instead of each Scout doing it for himself/herself).
  • Use disposable food service items (utensils, dishes). If disposable items are not feasible or desirable, ensure that all non-disposable food service items are handled with gloves and washed with dish soap and hot water. Individuals should wash their hands after removing their gloves or after directly handling used food service items. No self-serve buffet meals should be used.
  • Protect Scouts and Volunteers who are at Higher Risk of Severe Illness from COVID-19. Offer options for Scouts and volunteers who are at higher risk for severe illness (including older adults and people of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions) that limit exposure risk.
  • Prioritize outdoor activities where social distancing can be maintained as much as possible.
  • Have a plan if a person becomes sick. Scouts who have had close contact with a person who has symptoms should be separated and follow CDC guidance for community-related exposure. If symptoms develop, individuals who are sick should be cared for following CDC guidance for caring for yourself or others who are sick

If you have any questions on these guidelines, please contact your District Executive. Thank you for keeping our Scouts, volunteers, and Scouting families safe by following these guidelines.