Dear Girl Scouts,
We are witnessing history as the world and our nation respond to COVID-19 (coronavirus). Like many of you, we have become increasingly concerned with how the evolving situation could affect our community. Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore (GSJS) is closely monitoring the COVID-19 updates from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the New Jersey Department of Health, for both Monmouth and Ocean counties. Please know that the health and well-being of our girls, volunteers, families, supporters and community partners continues to be our organization's top priority. For some, this is a true short-term crisis. For those who are working on solutions, it is an opportunity for leadership.
At GSJS, we are unfortunately entering a season of program activities, volunteer recognition and our annual meeting just as the outbreak is forecast to be spreading nationally. We will be active in managing our risks and ensuring our girls, volunteers, and staff stay safe while also keeping Girl Scouting vibrant and active.
Out of an abundance of caution and for the safety of council staff and our girl and adult members, council service centers and shops will be closed to external visitors and meetings from Monday, March 16 through March 29, 2020. We are expanding our virtual work capabilities for staff, and moving to a remote work-from-home reality. Although we don't anticipate a reduction in service levels, we ask that you be patient as we employ new tactics to ensure business continuity.
Update (March 16, 2020): Council staff will work remotely through March 29, 2020.)
Now, as we have learned more about how best to protect our community, we have made the decision to postpone/reschedule Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore council-sponsored programs, property reservations, trainings, activities and events scheduled through March 31, 2020. The closure includes external partner events and council in-person trainings. GSJS will offer program credit for all canceled programs that could not be rescheduled. We will continue to evaluate the situation and make changes as we deem necessary for the safety of our members and council staff. We are currently evaluating council-sponsored programs and events beyond March 31.
Going forward, decisions to postpone, reschedule, and/or cancel any events will be made two weeks prior to each event and will be posted on our website at GSFun.org/Coronavirus.
We recognize that many of you have questions about how this decision might impact the annual Girl Scout Cookie Program. We are actively working with GSUSA, along with Little Brownie Bakers, to provide support and alternative options for girls and troops. At GSJS, we have made the decision, effective Monday, March 16, to suspend all cookie booths for the next two weeks and we anticipate extending the Cookie Program through Sunday, May 17. We will do our best to reschedule cookie booth dates or secure new cookie booth locations and dates to allow troops/girls to sell beyond current cookie season dates. GSJS Staff is also in the process of identifying community partners to underwrite any remaining cookies to help alleviate the burden for the troops/girls.
Here is what we know at this time.
- Deposit dates have been extended to Friday, April 17, 2020, and the late booth sale deposit date will be extended to Monday, May 18, 2020
- Any money collected to this point should be deposited immediately
- Booth sites are anticipated to extend until May 17, 2020
- All booth sales are suspended for two weeks effective Monday, March 16
- ALL depot orders pending pick up will be contacted with a pickup date and time
- Depots will reopen at a later time to accommodate all orders not picked up and to allow our troops to take advantage of the extension fully
- Troops that rented costumes for this weekend are asked to keep them until council reopens. Further instruction will be given at a later time. We ask that all costumes come back cleaned to prevent contamination
We will share additional product program news, as more information becomes available.
The council is also requiring troops to suspend all in-person meetings and partner events through at least Tuesday, March 31. While this suspension of activities includes your regular troop meetings, the opportunity to participate in "normal" activities and engage with one another will continue to be very important for girls, especially during this time of uncertainty for them.
To keep girls actively engaged, consider creating take-home packets or recommend a badge, Journey or patch activity to work on individually. You can then host a virtual group discussion or find a Facebook Live event to attend together. There are various tools available to engage with council activities and other troops. We encourage troop leaders to look at these and alternative options and discuss the best solution for your troop's needs with parents and girls.
While we know that disruptions and cancellations are not ideal, these decisions were reached based on our commitment to our community's health and well-being. We ask for your patience, appreciate your commitment to each other, and everyone's efforts to make the best of this tough situation.
It is important to stay calm, reassure people that we are prepared, and continue to be actively vigilant in keeping our girls, volunteers, and staff safe as we lead through this moment.
Please note that this is a quickly evolving situation and we will update any changes to our recommendations and decisions daily.
Eileen M. Higgins
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore