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Novel Coronavirus — July 12, 2021 Update: Explore Scouts Canada’s actions as we continue to follow the direction of government and health agencies in maintaining public health. View recommendations and stay informed here.

COVID-19 FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

REGISTRATION, REFUNDS AND SCOUTING YEAR

To ensure the sustainability of Scouting as a vibrant community and youth-leadership opportunity both now and long into the future, we continue to act prudently; not moving first, but learning fast from others in alignment with provincial advice, guidelines and regulations. 

Scouts Canada’s response to COVID-19 has been guided by the following principles:

  • Start Scouting when it is safe to do so
  • Not be first mover but a fast follower
  • Learn from others and the return-to-school process and impact
  • Progressive return to Scouting — stages
  • Follow provincial requirements — use a National standard applied in a regional setting & phasing

We will open early registration for the 2022 Scouting Year on September 1, 2021 for current members and September 15 for new and lapsed members. This is not a new process, for years, Scouts Canada has provided early registration for current and new members in May. The only difference this year is that the dates have changed due to the shift in Registration Year from (September-August) to (January-December). 

Also not new, any new or lapsed member that joins on September 15th can begin Scouting immediately and can continue Scouting until December 2022.

As in years past, current registered members will have a two-week window to secure their spot with their Group. After which, on September 15, 2021, registration will be open for new and lapsed members. Everyone can register for 2022 when it is convenient for them - all the way into January 2022 and beyond.

Scouts Canada has not increased its fee. Scouts Canada will be offering a 12-month membership for a unified flat fee of $230. We have kept the fee the same because we are mindful that many families may be dealing with unprecedented disruption. 

New this year — $15 from each paid registration will be returned to the Group.

During these uncertain times, when fundraising may be more challenging, Scouts Canada is supporting its Groups by directing $15 from each paid youth registration back to the Group. By doing so, Scouts Canada hopes to enable Groups to deliver even greater Scouting adventures for youth in the new Scouting year.

STAGE PROGRESSION

Following our guiding principles, we will never knowingly put our members in an unsafe situation and will always take a more risk prudent approach.  In those provinces where restrictions are easing, we have taken a position to act one to two weeks after the decision in the province has been implemented.  We will continue to follow the guidance and restrictions of our Provincial Authorities and use the specific criteria adopted by the Provincial Public Health Authorities. We will continue to take a balanced-risk approach knowing that Scouts is needed NOW more than ever.

In areas where local health units are tightening restrictions – we will move to more outdoor or virtual environments.  As provinces/health units loosen restrictions – the decision to move to an indoor environment is an option.  However, even if a Group CAN do indoor Scouting, they CAN choose outdoor or virtual programming as well.  Scouting is flexible and we have great resources to help you adapt the programming to the environment.  

No. In all cases – we provide the opportunity for Scouters to advance following public health guidelines at the provincial and municipal levels, knowing that our standards meet or exceed those requirements. Groups, individuals or youth will never be required to advance to a STAGE that they are uncomfortable with. We create the option, based on official medical guidance consistent with provincial health authorities, for those who want to meet indoors (STAGE 4) or in larger sections (STAGE 3) to do so.  

The Council Key 3, in consultation with Scouts Canada subject matter experts, will review the provincial and municipal guidance and recommend moving forwards or backwards in STAGE progression. It is expected that Councils will move at different speeds and anticipated that some Councils will move backwards as well as forwards as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

Depending on the Council, notification may take the form of a website, email or GSS cascade of information. The Scouts.ca website will be updated with a dedicated page showing which council is in which stage at any time with clear reference to the applicable standard.

In Stage 3 in-person meetings may be expanded to a 50-person maximum (including all participants: youth, Scouters, parents, helpers) and not constrained to 16-youth. For example, a large Beaver Colony of 28 youth could meet with their 8 Scouters and additional parents and helpers to a maximum of 50 persons total.

This is not a simple one brush paints all answer. Instead, much like the decision for progression of the Council, the Council Key 3, in consultation with Scouts Canada subject matter experts, will review the provincial and municipal guidance and recommend an appropriate response. In the case of a single area requiring a shift to a different stage it may be suitable for only a municipality or region having more stringent controls. For example, the Peel Region near Toronto was moved to STAGE 1 (virtual), while the rest of the Council stayed in STAGE 2, mirroring the municipal and provincial guidelines. In this instance, the Council Key 3 alerted the impacted Groups through email. The Scouts.ca website will be updated with a dedicated page showing which council is in which stage at any time with clear reference to the applicable standard.

You should avoid travelling between zones (for example: using Ontario colour-coding; from Grey-Lockdown to any other zone, Red-Control to Orange-Restrict or Yellow-Protect to Green-Prevent), except for essential reasons. This is an update from previous guidance based off the latest provincial medical and government advice.

CAMPING STAGE 3

Given the inherent nature of higher risk with younger youth, overnight camping for Colony (Beaver Scouts) and Pack (Cub Scouts) is not permitted in STAGE 3. Daytime activities are recommended for both Colony (Beaver Scout) and Pack (Cub Scout). When a Council progresses to STAGE 4 Beaver and Cub camping will be permitted within patrols of 8 youth or less.

The intent of all safety controls is to limit the spread of infection. Within STAGE 3, the province has signalled that the rate of transmission is low enough to permit increased interaction between small groups providing appropriate health controls are in place. In the instance of food provision, a small patrol sharing a stove and cooking equipment, hygienically cooking a shared dish and serving individual portions is permitted. No direct sharing of food or drink is permitted – for example sharing directly from a bag of potato chips. Note: Adults must remain separate from patrols of youth and will thus need to provide and cook their own meals.

CAMPING — STAGE 4

Adults are required to maintain 2m physical distancing from youth, and youth are only permitted to camp if they can maintain a physical separation from other patrols. Given this, accommodations designed for small patrols only are being used as an additional (engineering) risk management control to prevent inadvertent mixing.

PROPERTIES

Scouts Canada is coordinating with our various properties to ensure they follow proper health and hygiene guidelines and are ready to accommodate Scouting activities this fall . We will be adding an "available for Scouting properties" section on the Scouting resource page as early as next week. From there you will get a list of available properties as well as a link to reserve your time for your activity. 

PROPERTIES — STAGE 4

All active Scouts Canada properties are listed on Scouts.ca (https://modxtest.scouts.ca/about/camps/overview.html ). If a Scouts Canada property is active, and has been verified and approved that all of the criteria required to be active are met, then yes those active Scouts Canada properties could be used for indoor meetings.

PHYSICAL DISTANCING

In all our surveys, engagements, and feedback (for this Standard) the majority of parents want to see smaller sizes for their youth to participate. Consistent with guidance from Provincial Health and Education Ministries (“Scenario 2”), we have proposed a balanced risk-based approach that leverages practical considerations of working with youth and leverages our core program Patrol System. Guidance varies but in general schools and other youth organizations are proposing cohorts of 8 to 15 people total, including adult support.

Practically speaking, with a need to maintain the Two-Scouter rule and maximize the ratio of youth to adults (8:1) this is the most efficient use of Scouter resources while maximizing the Patrol System methodology that is core to Scouting. This will make it easier for Scouters to be able to adapt program, manage risk controls, and provide reassurance to parents that their youth can experience Scouting safely.

The Two-Scouter rule must always be in effect and maintained.

The 16-youth maximum and cohorting into 2 teams of 8 youth maximum is also applicable to Rovers when participating as youth participants for the purposes of Scouting.

Not necessarily, as long as the Two-Scouter Rule is maintained you can support a group of 16 youth with 2 Scouters. It is always advisable to have an extra Scouter available, and for younger youth, 1 or 2 parents on hand to support. Ensure the 2 Scouters are within the field of view and within earshot of one another when with youth.

Absolutely, the 16-youth total is the constraint for one activity and Scouter-in-Charge. Many Sections will use Patrols of 3 and 4 youth and may have up to 4 or 5 Patrols. The cohort model is designed to keep the youth separate from another cohort. In this instance, if using 4 Patrols of 4 youth – keep them separate for the duration of the activity.

Many of the activities we run for Scouting, as well as those we participate in outside, have restrictions on number of attendees. The Section, in conjunction with the Group Commissioner as appropriate, should discuss this during the planning phase and communicate openly to parents and youth the restrictions, limitations and the ‘why’. We will always prioritize youth safety and have risk controls in place to manage risk levels within acceptable tolerance levels. Consider alternatives to how you will maximize the enjoyment without compromising the 16-youth total. Ask the youth, they will often find a solution.

If the 2 Scouters-in-Charge and Group Commissioner determine that the 2 Sections / activities can be held independently and can maintain physical distancing, then yes. For the purposes of this Standard – the Beaver Section and Cub Section are separate activities and require separate approvals. It would be appropriate for the combined total person to be less than the 50-maximum. If this can’t be achieved, for example, lots of parents and helpers are required in each section, then it would be important to ensure separation. Scouters, parents and other resources must not be shared between the 2 activity groups.

This same logic can be applied to splitting a large Beaver Colony or Cub Pack into 2 separate activities. Providing they can operate separately with a different Scouter-in-Charge without shared resources they can occupy the same location (separated) at the same time.

To aid this process, Scouts Canada will be providing further guidance for how to manage drop-off and pick-up procedures as well as attendance / sign-in that maintains physical distancing. Groups will be strongly encouraged to modify these for their local situation and conditions. This is a great opportunity to enlist support from willing parent helpers.

PHYSICAL DISTANCING — STAGE 3

On the basis that councils will only progress to STAGE 3 when the provincial health performance is improving and risk controls are relaxing, the 1m physical distancing within patrols is consistent with provincial health and subject matter expert guidance.

Provincial or municipal guidance or regulation must always be followed if stricter than Scouts Canada guidance.

PHYSICAL DISTANCING — STAGE 4

When conducting indoor activities, masks are required for all participants. This includes when within patrols (lairs, lodges). When conducting outdoor activities, unless prescribed by local regulations, masks are not required. Masks are neither recommended nor required when sleeping — for example within tents or indoors. This should be taken into consideration with other risk controls when determining the activities planned. Parents should be informed early and engaged in the planning of overnight activities and risk management.

VULNERABLE POPULATIONS

This definition varies slightly by province, but in general they all follow the Federal Government definition. For the purposes of Scouts Canada, it includes anyone who is:

  • an older adult (highest risk are adults > 65 years of age)
  • at risk due to underlying medical conditions (e.g. heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer)
  • at risk due to a compromised immune system from a medical condition or treatment (e.g. chemotherapy)

CLEANING & HYGIENE

It is critical that cleaning has been conducted before the next activity begins. It is necessary to clean all surfaces, equipment before and after use to reduce the chance of cross-contamination and disease transmission. Combined with hand washing, this is the best prevention for transmission. If the Scouter-in-Charge can satisfy themselves that this has been completed to the required standards additional cleaning would not be required.

Yes, Scouts Canada will be providing further guidance but in general, the best practice is to refer to Provincial or Federal Health Authorities, an example of which is: http://www.bccdc.ca/Health-Info-Site/Documents/CleaningDisinfecting_PublicSettings.pdf.

Yes. As long as the Scouter-in-Charge has verified and agreed that the bathrooms to be used meet or exceed the requirements of expected cleanliness and that hygiene and physical distancing controls can be maintained. Washroom usage should be considered as a standard part of the planning phase for any Scouting activity. The two Scouter rule must always be maintained. 

SCREENING

In general, no. This may vary by exception in some provinces and school boards, but broadly, when, for example, schools ask a youth to be isolated and / or tested, the public health authority instruction is typically requiring the youth and all household members to isolate for a minimum of 24 hours or until a negative test result. This does vary by province and by school board.

It would be advisable for the parent to engage with the Scouter in Charge and share the letter that accompanied the youth with instructions. The onus is on the parent as the legal guardian as public health authority notices are, in most instances, legally enforceable to the parent.

The specific reference in the standard is: Section 7.d.iv. “All persons ordered, and family members (or social bubble) of persons ordered, to quarantine or self-isolate under a Public Health order of a Municipality, Province or an order made under the Federal Quarantine Act are prohibited from in-person Scouting activities.

If planning on using public spaces, this must be taken into account in preparation for the activity or meeting. Known confluences or ‘hot-spots’ where lots of other people will likely gather must be avoided. If there are areas in which other people are congregating, select a location which limits as much as practical potential transmission and enables as much as practical physical distancing. This should be discussed with the Group Commissioner in the planning and approval phase of the activity in advance and in anticipation of such.

Scouts Canada has modified a set of questions that are used in provincial guidance for Scouters to use and developed a standard screening checklist that will be made available. No temperature checks or physical checks are required. No paper copy or digital record of the participant self-assessment is required. A question is included in the attendance checklist to confirm this has been completed. Only a confirmation checkmark on the attendance record is required for the Scouter in Charge’s records.

We should assume the parent has no ill meaning and take them at their word carry on as normal, maintain good hand hygiene, cleaning and physical distancing.

If requested by designated officials from the public health unit, Scouters should provide the contact tracing details as requested – recorded on the attendance sheet. Scouters should not further inform parents / guardians, youth or Scouters unless instructed to do so.

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

As with all safety and risk controls, they work as a system, no one barrier or control is designed to be used alone. If we design program as much as practical, screen for symptoms, use good hygiene practices, we will reduce the risk to acceptable levels within risk tolerance. Support the youth with what they need, if you feel uncomfortable wear a mask, gloves or ask someone else to help.

It depends. If the activity being conducted and the conditions (weather, time, other people) have not significantly changed, then no, the Group Commissioner can approve that a single form can be used for multiple activities. If weather or light conditions are expected to be different, or the activity to be conducted is different it may be appropriate to update the risk and emergency response plans. A new location will likely have different risks and different controls.

FOOD PROVISION

Cooking in small “social-bubbles” of 2 or 3 youth is a great way for the youth to practice the Outdoor Adventure Trail & Camping Skills. The youth can also develop their meal-planning skills, practice cooking new menus and be self-contained: planning, purchasing, carrying, storing, cooking, cleaning, and eating their own meals. For emergency purposes, you may want to consider having individually packaged food items on hand. No buffet-style, shared cooking – a great way to experience Scouting at its best.

APPROVALS

At the time of writing (July 8th, 2020), no provinces are mandating that workplaces or charity organizations submit a form for approval. The majority are requiring that a documented plan is available at any time but not submitted. This is the same for Scouts Canada ‘the business’ which has additional legal requirements for its employees.

No.The Modified Adventure Application Form (Pandemic STAGE 2) is only required to be completed by the Scouter-in-Charge and approved by the Group Commissioner on behalf of the Group Committee. There are no requirements for the MAAF to be submitted to either a Council or Service Centre.

ACTIVITY MODIFICATION & GUIDANCE

Yes. Each Section would require their own designated Scouter in Charge and be physically distanced (into separate areas) for the purposes of the activity – even if they’re part of one large Section split for the purposes of 16-youth total limits. Plans should also take into account staggered drop off and pick up times (as an example) to maintain physical distancing. A 50-person maximum limit is advised for the 2 combined Sections.

Singing, shouting and any activity which increases the chance for disease transmission should be limited. Singing, while seemingly safe, has been shown to significantly increase the risk for transmission and should be avoided. Look for a fun alternative to keep the youth engaged and increase physical distancing.

GENERAL

ALL Scouts Canada properties will remain closed throughout the summer.

Consistent with the suspension of in-person activities for the remainder of the summer and based on advice that camping remains a high-risk activity according to most provincial health guidelines, Scouts Canada will continue to prioritize the safety of our youth, employees, volunteers and parents and suspend all in-person camps and camping activities for the summer.

Keeping youth active and outdoors has been the core of our program for over 100 years and that will not change. However, given current restrictions, we have had to adapt. The benefits of Scouting go beyond outdoor activities. Leadership skills, community engagement, social connectivity and resilience are also key benefits of Scouting and occur through virtual meetings if we are creative and flexible. These skills are crucial during these unprecedented times.

Although we are as eager as you are to get back outdoors, we are equally committed to provide our youth with a quality program that will enable them to develop into well-rounded individuals despite current restrictions.

Throughout the summer, Scouts Canada will be developing a comprehensive and robust program to support virtual Section meetings that keep youth active and engaged in Scouting.

We are currently evaluating different scenarios regarding Scout Popcorn and fundraising. We are encouraged by our online Scouts Seeds pilot campaign this spring. We will communicate our direction once we have more certainty. In the meantime, provincial social distancing guidelines should be followed with regards to fundraising activities.

Under STAGE 1 (our current active STAGE), bottle drives and other in-person fundraisers are not permitted.

Under STAGE 2 (which we will be moving to on September 1, 2020) bottle drives, Apple Day, Scouts Popcorn and other In-Person fundraisers, will be permitted — as long as the controls in place meet or exceed the requirements of the Standard. Specifically, cohorts (Patrols), cleaning, hygiene, physical distancing and with clear informed parental consent.