Before you meet, make sure you screen for COVID-19

There’s a lot about 2020 most of us would like to forget, but protecting ourselves and our Scouts from COVID-19 is something we all must remember to do.

In surveys the BSA sent out to more than 14,500 unit leaders, two-thirds of those polled indicated they were feeling positive about restarting Scouting. Some respondents were not meeting, and one of the big reasons was virtual fatigue. We get it. We’re ready to get back to seeing each other in-person again — serving the community, going on fun outings and having outdoor adventures. But, these activities must be done safely.

An updated COVID-19 pre-event medical screening checklist is available to help you determine whether to stay home or not during the pandemic. It shares symptoms to look for as well as defines “close contact.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, “close contact” means:

  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period
  • You had direct physical contact with an infected person
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • An infected person sneezed, coughed or otherwise got respiratory droplets on you

If any one of these happened to you prior to a Scouting event, stay home.

Another checklist to review includes symptoms. If anyone in your household experiences any of these symptoms prior to an event, everyone in the household must stay home. Even if you think your symptoms are the result of allergies, stay home.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Fever of 100 degrees or greater
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting

You should also stay home if you’ve had a COVID-19 test and are awaiting results. The virus can affect people differently; you can experience multiple symptoms or none.

Restarting Scouting

Symptoms and close contact aren’t the only considerations you should take into account before meeting. Scouting’s COVID-19 page provides a Restart Scouting Checklist, which provides guidance on group sizes, travel and dining and tenting protocols.

The COVID-19 FAQs page has also been updated this month to include additional guidance on advancement and extensions.

Review these pages and also check local and state COVID-19 guidelines. Continue to discuss with other Scouters how they feel about meeting. The best and safest option might be to meet virtually. And if your Scouts have grown weary of online meetings, visit the Scouting at Home page for ideas and resources to make at-home meetings fun.

If you do plan to meet in-person, consider meeting in small groups, like in dens, patrols or subsets of the same rank as long as youth protection and leadership rules are being followed. These groups can meet in homes, outdoors or in places that provide a safe, well-ventilated environment for the Scouts and allow them to follow social distancing measures. If you don’t have a place to meet right now, call your local council and see if they can help you find a space that will allow gatherings.

Again, if you are experiencing symptoms or are awaiting COVID-19 test results, don’t attend any meeting or activity. When you meet, wear a face covering that covers your mouth and nose, stay at least 6 feet apart from others and wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.

Outdoor passes for some Cub Scouts

Every year, fourth graders get the opportunity for free access to public lands for an entire year via the Every Kid Outdoors program. Because of the pandemic, this offer has been extended to fifth graders as well.

If you’re close to a national park, national forest or grassland, wildlife refuge or other Department of the Interior, U.S. Forest Service or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed public land or waters, this might be a chance for a fun outdoor outing or meeting for free.

Now through this August, you can secure vouchers and passes for your fourth or fifth grader by visiting this page.

About Michael Freeman 287 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is an associate editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines.