Guidelines for Returning to Meetings
At all levels of the Scout Movement, be it global, regional or local, the health, safety and wellbeing of all Scouts, young people, volunteers and staff is of utmost importance. We are in the second year of living with this global pandemic and as we continue to adjust to our “new norms” of living in these times, the Scout Association of Trinidad & Tobago would like to take this opportunity to share our updated guidelines for the resumption of Group meetings in keeping with revised Public Health Ordinances.
It must be noted here that in our continued efforts to promote the safety and well-being of our members we have introduced a coded and phased approach to the conduct of face-to-face Scout meetings and activities.
- Red, for when the rate of infection remains consistent or growing
- Orange, for when the rate of infection is reducing consistently
- Yellow, for when there are very few cases in the population and a full track and trace system is operational
Whilst these guidelines are recommended, the following should be noted as it pertains to the 2019 Public Health Act:
[2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)] (no. 23) Regulations, 2021 (“the Regulations”)
(1) For the purpose of controlling and preventing the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), it shall be an offence, during the period specified in regulation 19, for any person to-
- (a) have a public or private pre-school, early childhood education centre, primary school, secondary school, tertiary institution or other post-secondary institution open for classes in such places.
- (b) operate a day-care or pre-school for children for the care or education of young children,
except with the approval of the Minister.
(4) The requirements in respect of masks under regulation 6 apply at all schools, to all students, teachers, staff and other persons on the premises of such schools.
Taking this into consideration, we will now introduce an Emergency Alert System Code Green level:
- Green, for when there are no new cases or there is a vaccine readily available.
- Green, Scout Troops may gather in person ENSURING that the troop is subdivided into patrols containing up to the maximum allowed number 10 persons at this time. Troop interactions should be limited to one hour
With this in mind, we at the Scout Association of Trinidad and Tobago continue to actively develop a series of guidelines which would inform the day to day running of its activities at every level, which would embrace the established protocols of the Ministry of Health and marry them with our standard operating procedures and policies.
COVID-19 In-Person Troop or Group Meeting Guidelines
When deciding whether to host an in-person meeting, please note the following:
- Scout Troops can operate via patrols on premises that are the property of the ScoutsTT or their sponsoring authority. (Approval of sponsoring authority must be sought as part of risk assessment documents submitted)
- There should be no more than ten persons at a time gathered for any meeting of Scout Troops on these properties.
- Consideration must be given to the make-up and size of your troop or group, including possible attendees, their families, and their current comfort level with in-person activities.
Prior to conducting any meeting, you shall complete robust Risk Assessments considering all scenarios that will be encountered during the intended meeting. The Risk Assessment document shall be properly completed and signed off by the respective individuals responsible for the activity prior to submitting for review at least 7 days prior to the actual meeting.
Remember, you are not alone. Work with your leadership team and ask for help where you need it. Executive Committees and Commissioners have responsibility for making sure that face-to-face activities return safely all within a rapidly changing national framework.
Based on the Public Health Regulations, in-person meetings for troops and groups meeting in schools must remain on hold until approval from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education is given. This does not mean that the Adults in Scouting of the respective school groups cannot meet in-person at a place of their choosing, outside of the school compound or within the school compound once principals are involved, to discuss continuity of their respective groups. We strongly recommend that all individuals get vaccinated and adhere to the following protocols:
- Wear masks for all meetings even when you go out in public
- Keep your distance from others (6ft)
- Stay home if you are ill
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitiser
- Cough into a tissue or into the crook of your elbow
- Avoid touching your face
- Clean then sanitise surfaces (e.g. table tops, door knobs and cell phones).
- Ensure that all present adhere to the guidelines specified in the risk assessment.
It is of utmost importance that we all follow the guidelines listed below and any further updates as may be published from time to time:
Risk Assessment, Readiness and Activity Plans
- Scout Groups themselves will ultimately have a better understanding of the individuals within their troop and therefore will make the final decision about when to safely resume face-to-face meetings and activities, along with their volunteer line managers, in this case the District Commissioner. These decisions need to be made within a national framework designed to help everyone stay safe. The decision must be communicated in writing to the District Commissioner who would then forward to the individual designated by the National Scout Commissioner.
- To make sure everyone is working to the same standards, this framework will be a policy of The Scout Association of Trinidad and Tobago until further notice. The operating guidelines referenced in this framework document are the minimum required to allow a Scout Group or Unit to restart. Districts should not arbitrarily apply additional requirements, except where those are jointly agreed by both parties and are sensible and reasonable.
- This will be updated frequently, as guided by the protocols of the Ministry of Health and National Health Ordinances as issued. (next update – March 2022)
- This framework will be in place from February 2022. We expect all Scout Groups and Units to start making their plans during February 2022 and updating them in the following months as lockdown measures are eased or increased.
- Meetings between members should not resume face-to-face until sufficient control measures or mitigations are in place (i.e., risk assessment, etc.), if members feel that these conditions cannot be met or managed in a safe way, they should wait until they are able to do so before resuming physical meetings.
- While the guidance will expand and improve over time, the requirements set out in this framework below will remain consistent. The guidance is designed to help volunteers meet the requirements of this framework, in a simple and practical way.
- When risk levels change, as notified by the Ministry of Health and the Public Health Ordinances, Scout Groups will need to revisit and, if necessary, update their written risk assessments and action plans and provide copies to the relevant volunteer line manager. They will also need to gain permission from their District to enter the next phase. However, if lockdown measures increase and the emergency alert level changes (e.g. Orange to Red), Groups are expected to revert to previous practice immediately and notify line-managers, rather than ask for approval.
- Everyone needs to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19. Volunteer line managers have a legal responsibility to protect other volunteers, young people and those who encounter each other in groups; from risk to their health. This means they need to assess the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them. At the same time, we need to recognise that we cannot eliminate the risk of COVID-19. Districts are responsible for supporting leaders to have rigorous written risk assessments and achievable action plans.
- As Scouts, we deliver a range of activities in a range of environments. Each group must complete a written risk assessment and action plan for each section and for every environment they wish to operate in. The risk assessments used to authorise re-starting face-to-face activities are for the place or environment a section is planning to operate in. If that environment or place changes significantly enough for the risks to change, this must be communicated accordingly through the 6 established communication lines following which, a new risk assessment shall be completed and required approval sought.
- Groups must submit their risk assessment, readiness and activity plans for in person meetings to their volunteer line manager, in this case the District Commissioner, for those wishing immediate reopening by February 11th, 2022 in preparation for the resumption of these face-to-face meetings.
- Groups must have and submit updated registration information for each member, including group registration information ensuring that all registration and insurance fees have been paid for existing members. Updated Leader Contact information, updated warrant applications and all relevant documentation should be submitted to the District Commissioner by the 28th February 2022.
- Groups operating in shared or common spaces such as Halls, outdoor spaces, etc. as well as those regularly based in Schools, who now wish to operate in a ScoutsTT location or other private property, must complete the risk assessment and program preparation documents with input from the managers of these shared or common spaces. These groups are required to have permission from these mangers for meetings to resume, submitted along with risk assessment and activity plans for the upcoming reopening. If these groups wish to meet in small numbers on ScoutsTT or sponsor property, they must have the permission from the sponsoring body and the District Commissioner to do so.
General Guidelines to be agreed upon before Attending Physical Meetings
- As we move to restart face-to-face meetings and activities, there are specific things you as leaders will need to do ahead of getting approval to restart. Our number one priority is making sure that all our members are kept safe. If we don’t feel we can do that, we shouldn’t feel obliged to restart activities.
- Safety guidelines must be provided to all participants, volunteers, and the caregiver/guardians of all Youth participants before the in-person meeting takes place.
- Considering the mounting evidence regarding COVID-19 in children, adolescents and adults, ScoutsTT encourages individuals who maybe more susceptible or at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 (including individuals age 65 and older or those with serious underlying health conditions) to get fully vaccinated and to carefully consider and weigh all risks involved when deciding whether participating through in-person meetings is appropriate at this time.
- Parents must also determine the risks of allowing their child attend troop meetings and determine the appropriate time for their child to resume in-person Scouting activities.
- Before attending, all volunteers must read guidelines (click here) on appropriate cleaning and disinfection and hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
- Each group must have an assigned individual who will be asked to document the responses to the screening checklist of all participants upon arrival. This volunteer must serve as the point of notification for any post-meeting incident of a communicable disease. These documents must be kept confidentially with other health forms and permission slips. (Click here)
- Participants should acknowledge that they must follow all specific rules or guidelines of the in-person meeting location or host site. It is strongly encouraged to hold meetings outdoors whenever possible.
- If a Youth Member, parent/guardian, or volunteer (or member of their household) is showing signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19 or has been in close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19, they are not permitted to attend in-person meetings or gatherings until they are either: cleared by a medical professional, it has been 72-hours since signs or symptoms (without the use of fever-reducing medication), or it has been 14 days since the last date of a confirmed exposure to COVID-19.
Physical Arrangements and Meeting Places
Sanitation of Facilities
- Establish a documented housekeeping schedule to incorporate routine cleaning and sanitisation with regular, frequent, and periodic cleaning of spaces and shared items.
- Ensuring cleaning and sanitisation immediately before and after all meetings and or activities.
- Ensure that high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, handles, chairs, benches, countertops, restrooms, equipment, and shared spaces are properly disinfected on a frequent or periodic basis using a bleach solution – 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) per gallon of water US 3.8L or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water or 70% alcohol solutions or other MOH-approved disinfectant.
- Where possible, set-up hand sanitiser dispensers at specific high traffic areas and place bins around the location. Bins should have swing type lids and garbage must be securely disposed of.
- Ensure proper ventilation systems for areas of congregation using, preferably natural air in the first instance, and/or limited use of air condition. It is strongly encouraged to hold meetings outdoors
- Sinks and antibacterial soaps should be installed at the entrance of the compound and at strategic areas throughout the compound.
- The compound must be free of debris and moss whilst drains must be cleaned and the grass cut in yards and around buildings.
- Signage indicating the following: “All visitors must wear masks. No mask, No entry” must be placed at the entrance to all facilities.
- Visitors with flu-like symptoms should not be allowed entry on to the compound.
- Parents/Guardians are kindly asked to remain in their cars at pick up or drop off time if possible.
- If Parents/Guardians need to walk up to the Troop/Den room with their child or wait for them, please do not enter the building. Instead, wait outside and remember to practice physical distancing from others.
- Leaders, Rovers and other adults should travel in their own vehicles in preference to sharing. Parents/Guardians are encouraged to drive their own children to and from all activities.
- Group Leaders are to appoint one person who shall use non-contact infrared thermometer, at the meeting’s entry point. Members or visitors with a higher-than-average temperature shall be directed to a cool isolated area nearby and their temperature rechecked after 5 minutes. The environmental temperature must be taken into consideration; therefore temperature checks must be done more than once before a member or visitor is deemed to be a person of concern.
- Post visual alerts (e.g., signs, posters) at the entrance and in strategic locations e.g., waiting areas, common areas to provide instructions (in appropriate languages) about hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette. Instructions should include wearing an approved face covering or face mask for source control, and how and when to perform hand hygiene.
- Provide an adequate supply of 60% alcohol-based hand sanitiser or hand washing facilities or stations (fixed or portable), soap and running water for use before and after the meeting or activity. It would be ideal to have easy open-close taps or pedal actuated or hands-free taps.
- Endorse and encourage proper mask etiquette when entering and within the establishment as well as promoting the abstinence of touching the face.
- All members should be encouraged to walk with a personal supply of sanitiser.
- All members must wash their hands with soap and water after using the washrooms.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or upper arm.
- Stay home if you are feeling sick and seek appropriate medical guidance.
Meeting Activities and Program Guidelines
- At the time of writing group gatherings should be limited to 10 individuals including Leaders and other volunteers.
- Activities carried out during meetings shall adhere to all recommendations stated prior.
- Larger troops may break into smaller groups with each group meeting at the same time in different locations. Members in the groups must remain static. Do not move members from one group to another from one week to the next however adults may move from one group to the other.
- Handshakes, Sing-Songs, Scout formations and Scout traditions, such as Grand Howls etc, must be adapted to conform with present safety precautions or not done at all. Games/activities would need to be carefully chosen to ensure physical contact is not happening.
- Stay local to your geographic area and groups for Troop activities. If you must travel, limit mixing with others along the way.
- Minimise mixing with parents or siblings unless they are part of the unit activity
- Minimise the use of common areas and shared tools. If unavoidable, they should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between uses. Where possible, assign activity-related protective equipment for the duration of an event to a single individual (life jacket, gloves, harness).
- There shall be no sharing of tents or confined spaces at this time.
- Ensure troop first aid supplies include COVID-19 prevention items including hand sanitiser, tissues, disposable face masks, and disinfectants are available at all meetings.
- Ensure each participant brings their own filled-water bottle. If serving snacks, they should be prepackaged individual snacks. Person distributing snacks must wash hands prior to distributing. (Or have each participant bring their own snack.) Do not share dishes/utensils.
- You may want to keep meetings relatively short to limit the number of bathroom trips.
- Ensure that there are enough volunteers to run each session safely and within ratios, both government and PO&R.
- Based on your troop size consider the use of scheduling your meetings over a few weeks to cover your required training material or utilize virtual platforms, with activities to be done at home to limit personal interaction for long durations.
- Ensure that the quality of your program/ activities offer sufficient challenges appropriate for the section. Ensure that the respective program supports young people to achieve, and as mentioned
prior, ensure that these be done socially distanced/blended with online activities as needed.
- Ensure that an attendance log is taken for each face-to-face session, including adults and visitors / helpers. This log Shall be kept with the respective leader for a minimum period of six weeks.
- Make all efforts to safely engage and support any parents/guardians/new volunteers who may have expressed an interest in volunteering.
- If your intent is to ‘buddy up’ with other sections/groups to deliver a quality program safely to your group, ensure that you reach out to the respective leaders within the District/Zone who would support you.
Whilst we have endeavoured to make this document as informative as possible, we continue to work towards ensuring that we are prepared to meet the changing circumstances that are meted out to us on a daily basis.
If you would like to share feedback as to how to make this policy better, please email us at [email protected] letting us know your thoughts.
For further reading and to look at the references that we have made use of in drafting this document you can follow the following links: