Egwa Tawa Dee COVID-19 Updates
Last Updated: 7/2/2020
Egwa Tawa Dee Lodge of the Order of the Arrow (OA) wants you to be aware of certain changes that have been implemented by your lodge and the OA in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All in-person OA unit elections in the Atlanta Area Council, BSA were suspended on March 13, 2020. If your Chapter conducted your unit's OA election prior to March 13, those results should have been submitted to the lodge.
If your Troop, Crew or Ship did not hold an OA unit election before March 13, has not held a virtual election (see below), and has Scouts who are eligible for election, the unit leader may schedule either an in-person election, a virtual election or composite election by contacting the Chapter that supports your District, using the election email addresses listed on the Lodge chapters page: https://aacegwa.org/chapters.
All unit elections must be completed, and the unit election reports submitted to the lodge on or before August 31, 2020.
Effective July 1, 2020, Chapters are authorized to conduct in-person elections under the following conditions:
- Elections must follow any restrictions concerning meetings, sanitation and social distancing set by the unit and the chartered organization.
- The election must be conducted so that it conforms to the guidelines set forth in the Governor’s Executive Orders concerning “gatherings” and “social distancing.” During an in-person election, the maximum number of persons (Scouts, Scouters, parents, election team members) who may be physically present in a single enclosed location during the presentation and balloting must not exceed the number of persons who constitute a “gathering.” Chapter Advisers must follow the guidance issued by the public health authority(ies) guidance for their district and any rules set by the head of the chartered organization for the unit.
- In large units, it may be necessary to split the unit into two sections and do the presentations and elections in different locations within the same building or out of doors in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.
- During the election, individuals present must maintain social distancing, which means they must stand or be seated at least 6 feet apart.
- Youth election team members must have parental consent to participate in a unit election, other than at their own unit.
- For in-person elections or presentations, an adult OA member must conduct the pre-event health screening for signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19 found in the BSA Restart Scouting Checklist on each member of the elections team prior to arrival at the unit meeting. Any team member who answers yes to any of the questions, cannot participate in the election. The BSA Restart Scouting Checklist can be found here.
- Unit leaders are strongly encouraged to conduct pre-event health screenings on unit members and parents prior to the election and to require everyone present to wear facemasks during the election. Election team members must wear face masks while visiting the unit and are encouraged to wear gloves when handling ballots.
- Hand sanitizer or hand washing facilities must be available to and used by team members, youth members of the unit and unit leaders, especially after handling paper ballots.
- The Chapter elections team should prepare the ballots and the other unit elections paperwork. The election team may allow the unit to print the ballots and the evaluation, but the unit election report should be handled only by the election team except to obtain the unit leader’s signature. Talley sheets must remain in the possession of team members.
- Units should sanitize any pens or pencils used during the election. If the election team provides pens and pencils they must be sanitized prior to and after use in an election or disposed of after the election.
If the state or public health authorities in your county impose stricter rules on in-person gatherings, units and elections teams must follow those instructions.
The National Director of the OA has authorized Lodges to conduct virtual Unit elections provided that they are conducted in accordance with specific guidance issued by the National Director and are approved, in advance, by the Council Executive. Egwa Tawa Dee is in the process of developing a plan that will allow Chapters to conduct virtual elections. Once that plan has been approved and tested, your Chapter will notify unit leaders of the units that had not held their election prior to March 13 and offer the Unit the opportunity to hold its 2020 OA election using the virtual format. The unit leader must agree, in writing, to holding a virtual election and it will be in lieu of holding an in-person election.
The authority to hold a virtual election expires on August 30, 2020. Elections held after September 1, 2020 must be in person.
Units which held an election between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020 are authorized to hold one additional election for any individuals who were ineligible at the time of the election due to the camping requirement but would have been considered eligible at the time if the temporary policy on virtual short term camping had been in effect. This second election must be completed no later than July 1, 2020. Those who were previously considered for election in the first election may not be reconsidered on this second ballot (i.e., no one can be considered for election more than once in a year).
Eligibility based on camping nights
To be eligible for election as a candidate for membership in the OA, a Scout must meet certain minimum rank requirements and have "have experienced 15 nights of Scout camping while registered with a troop, crew, or ship within the two years immediately prior to the election." Due to the fact that units are not able to camp due to the restrictions now in place, it is possible that a Scout who met the camping requirement in March of this year, may not be eligible when unit elections resume. The Lodge has determined that "Any Scout who had the required 15-nights of camping during the period of January 1 to March 31, 2020 and was otherwise qualified and approved by the unit leader will remain qualified until the end of this year’s in-person election period." If a Scout has been elected as a candidate, they are not affected.
Short Term Camping
In addition to regular camping nights, some “virtual camping” events conducted between March 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020, will qualify as short-term camping, if they meet all of the following requirements:
All virtual camping nights should be a direct result of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and be part of a BSA unit-organized unit camping event (i.e., multiple members of the unit are involved and camping simultaneously at remote locations).
- Some form of unit-organized communications should occur either during or immediately following the event.
- All existing youth protection policies and digital safety guidelines should be followed.
- No more than 3 nights of virtual camping are to be credited in any month in which government- or council-imposed COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
Long Term Camping
Virtual long-term camping of five (5) days is authorized to be counted toward the long-term camping requirements for OA eligibility consistent with the above guidelines and the following additional guidelines:
A long-term camp plan must be developed and approved by the unit leader prior to the commencement of the long-term camp. This plan is to be individualized to each Scout’s capabilities and situation and should strive to include:
- Progress toward advancement for each Scout
- Outdoor relevant experience consistent with local conditions and restrictions
- Unit-organized communications should occur on a daily basis during the camping experience and include discussion of progress made on summer camp goals.
- An end-of-camp assessment must be conducted with the unit leader to report on progress made during the experience itself and discuss how future virtual long-term camping experiences can be enhanced. During this assessment, the unit leader will make the determination if the Scout’s participation warrants granting credit for a completed virtual long-term camping experience in terms of OA eligibility.
Time Limit for Inductions
Normally a Scout has 12 months from the date of their election in which complete induction. However, the National Director of the Order of the Arrow notified lodges that, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, "Candidates that were elected February 1, 2019 through July 1, 2020 will have 24 months from the date of election to complete their ordeal." This change will also apply to adults who were selected in 2019 or 2020 but not inducted. For 2020 candidates, this means that they will have until March 2022 to be inducted. For 2019 candidates, they will have until March 2021 to complete induction. We are in the process of notifying each of these candidates by email of this change but, unfortunately, we do not have contact information for over half of the 2019 candidates. We are asking that you help us with getting the word to all of your 2019 candidates who were not inducted last year.
Scouts Elected in 2019
If a Scout was elected as a candidate in 2019, they are ineligible to have their name appear on a ballot in elections held after March 13, 2020. If a Scout was elected in 2019, and his or her unit held its unit election before March 13, the second election is valid.
All inductions scheduled for May 2020 were canceled but candidates will have two opportunities to be inducted this year. The first Induction Weekend is scheduled for August 21 – 23, 2020 at Bert Adams Scout Camp. The deadline for registration will be August 10, 2020. The second Induction Weekend is scheduled for November 6 – 8, 2020 also at Bert Adams.
Candidates who were elected or selected in 2020 also may attend the 2021 Spring Induction Weekend on April 30 – June 2, 2021 at Bert Adams Scout Camp.
Both Induction Weekends depend on public health authorities and the Council determining that it is safe. We will be notifying all unit leaders and candidates if there are any changes to the schedule. Please be assured that we are determined that every candidate will have the opportunity to be inducted if they want to be a part of our brotherhood of cheerful service.
There are no changes to the adult nomination process. Adult nominations will be accepted until August 31, 2020, or all units in your Chapter with eligible Scouts have completed holding their unit election, whichever is earlier. Adults who are selected as candidates will be notified by their Chapter Adviser. If the nomination was submitted prior to August 1, and the adult select by the Lodge Adult Selection Committee and approved by the Council Executive, the adult will be notified in time to register for the August Induction Weekend.
Lodge & Chapter Activities
The Lodge leadership and many of our Chapters continue to function by holding virtual meetings and events. Please encourage your OA members to participate.
Please share this information with the OA members and candidates in your units and their parents. While we are making every effort to keep them informed, we would appreciate your help in getting the word out.
Have Questions or Need Additional Information.
Please check with your Chapter Adviser using the email address for unit elections shown on https://www.aacegwa.org/chapters. Copies of email sent to those addresses are also seen by Lodge leaders.
Yours in Scouting,
Alex Girrard Ryan Girrard Matt Rendahl
Lodge Chief Lodge Adviser Lodge Staff Adviser