• geoffreypriems

Bayridge Group may move to Stage 4 effective November 16, 2020

Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that our youth are active and that they are experiencing meaningful adventures while staying safe. Our mission and our outdoor programs are beneficial to youth fitness, mental health, and overall well-being and they help to build resilient youth who are better prepared for the future. Our principle and our approach, throughout COVID, has been to balance risk while ensuring we act according to legislation and regulations imposed by federal, provincial, and municipal health agencies.

Recently, there have been legislative changes in Ontario that have clarified that COVID response status in regions throughout the province, including almost all of the public health units within our Council (excluding Western Quebec). As a result of these changes, changes can be made effective November 16, 2020 to the Scouting Stages of all Ontario Groups, according to their public health unit. Please remember that in all cases, additional restrictions imposed by local public health units must be followed at all times.

Effective Monday, November 16, 2020, Groups under the following public health units may move to Stage 4:

  • Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit

  • Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit

  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Health Unit

  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit

Stage 4 Information

Please click here to review the Stage 4 standard Size of gatherings: 50 persons total (Outdoors & Indoors)

  • Patrols: 8 youth maximum (2 patrols max)

  • Sharing of equipment: permitted within Patrols only

  • Camping: Currently prohibited for all Sections.

Remember, local public health unit and municipal regulations must be followed at all times.

For all Groups moving to Stage 4, please note that the Province of Ontario now requires Safety Plans to be posted/accessible.

How do we meet the new Safety Plan requirements?

The new requirements implemented by the Government of Ontario mandate that all of our Groups and Sections need to have a digital or printed copy of their Safety Plan available at all times during their activities. This means that All sections/groups and activity leaders must prepare and have accessible a section and activity specific Emergency Response Plan (ERP) including an activity specific Risk Management Plan. In addition, it is mandatory to complete the Modified Adventure Activity Form (“MAAF”), Attendance (Tracing) Sheet and confirm completion of the self-assessments conducted by the youth, parents and all activity participants. To assist with this requirement, a new Operational Plan PDF (which contains all these documents) is available by clicking here. As a reminder, an ERP and MAAF is required per activity location whereas the Tracing sheets and self-assessments are required per activity.

Why are we changing stages now?

We are changing stages in accordance with new legislation in Ontario as well as evolving recommendations from public health units. Multiple recent reports have shown that having access to outdoor and engaging activities is crucial to youth mental health right now, and the modified legislation provides us an opportunity to continue offering our program to youth in a safe manner. A thorough review of our Stage 3 and Stage 4 standards has shown that our policies meet or exceed those implemented by the province, with the addition of accessible Safety Plans (see above). We will continue to monitor local and regional public health authorities, as they may implement additional restrictions, but the current provincial guidelines allow for the stage changes outlined above. However, current public health classifications show that the Ottawa Region is safe for Stage 3 activities, all other Ontario Regions within Voyageur are safe for Stage 4 activities, and Western Quebec Regions remain at Stage 1.

For greater clarity around stage progression within Scouting, please check out our Stage Progression chart.

Does my Group have to change stages?

No, your Group does not have to change stages. The updated guidance as to which Groups can change stages at this time, based on new provincial legislation, is intended to offer Groups the greatest clarity and flexibility while still following our safety principles. For example, if your Group can move to Stage 4 but does not have access to any indoor spaces that can be used at this time (or that can accommodate as many youth as required while maintaining social distancing), you may choose to stay in Stage 3. We encourage you to discuss such choices with your Group's Relationship Manager and all other Scouters in your Group to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

If we are in Stage 4, are we allowed to have indoor meetings?

Yes, your Group is allowed to have indoor meetings under Stage 4 standards. However, safety standards must still be observed in an indoor space and many meeting space providers may not allow indoor activities at this time. For clarity, while you may have up to 50 persons at a Scouting activity in Stage 4, if the indoor space cannot safely handle 50 individuals maintain 2m social distancing, then you may need to change your plans to ensure that social distancing can be maintained within the space's limitations.

Do we still need to maintain social distancing?

Yes, all in-person Scouting activities require social distancing. This requirement may be different than those outlined by your public health unit, but remember that the more restrictive standard always applies. This means that, for Stage 3 and 4, youth within patrols should exercise 1m social distancing and all volunteers should maintain 2m social distancing from all members. For clarity, members of different patrols should maintain 2m social distancing at all times.

Are any changes needed to our standards to meet the new Ontario legislation?

No, our current standards (regarding Stage 3 and 4) meet or exceed all Ontario regulations, though copies of Safety Plans will now need to be accessible at all activities.

How can we keep track of which stage we should be in?

The Government of Ontario has recently released a detailed framework and web page which tracks the specific COVID Stage of each public health unit in the province. This framework generally maps onto our standards in that Groups under all Green and Yellow public health units can participate in Stage 4 Scouting whereas all Groups under Orange public health units can participate in Stage 3 Scouting. To access the framework, please visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-response-framework-keeping-ontario-safe-and-open

Aren't we limited in numbers due to the current limits on "social gatherings"?

No, Scouts Canada activities are not considered social gatherings under the revised legislation. The new legislation has provided clarity on how our events are classified, and under the new policies, our activities are considered "Organized Public Events or Gatherings". Additionally, some of our activities fall under the "Sports and Recreational Fitness" guidelines, and our recommendation to change stages is based on these policies specifically. For more information about what requirements are in place for "active" activities (such as hiking, scavenger hunts, etc.), please visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/guidance-facilities-sports-and-recreational-fitness-activities-during-covid-19.

Does this mean we can travel between Regions in different Stages?

No, travelling between Regions with different Stages is not allowed. For additional clarity around this point, please see the first five questions under the COVID-19 FAQ.

Does this mean we can go camping?

No, camping remains prohibited for all members of Scouts Canada in Ontario at this time. When this policy is changed by the Government of Ontario, we will provide a clear update at that time.

Where can I access the new/revised legislation?

If you would like to review the recent legislative changes, the official order for Stage 3 can be found at https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200364. Additionally, information on gathering sizes can be viewed at https://files.ontario.ca/moh-covid-19-response-framework-keeping-ontario-safe-and-open-en-2020-11-10.pdf.

I have additional questions or concerns, who can I reach out to?

Please send your questions to me at geoffrey.priems@scouts.ca

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