You’re receiving this email because of your involvement in the advancement process with Scouts in the Crossroads of America council. I understand there are many questions given the COVID-19 social distancing mandates, and I’ve talked to a number of you in the last few days about specific situations. I want to give you clear direction on the council’s workarounds during this time, but I’m waiting for promised input from national BSA and our council staff to make sure we’re all on the same page. Here is what I can share as of now:
Advancement via Videoconference
It is permissible to hold discussions by videoconference to complete Scoutmaster conferences, merit badge work, Eagle project approvals, and boards of review. National BSA has offered guidelines on how to do this, and I’ve included the link below. The article emphasizes the importance of 2-deep adult participation, the need to have the Scout’s parent or guardian involved at the start and end of the call, the fact that nobody should participate in a call who is not visible or announced, and the ban on recording any conversation with youth. Please read it carefully to make sure you’re aligned with the guidance provided.
Time Extensions to Complete Eagle Rank
The rules for extensions of time for Eagle rank are spelled out in section 188.8.131.52 of the Guide to Advancement. Extensions are only granted by national BSA. The local council advancement committee receives requests from Scouts and prepares the “Request for Extension of Time to Earn Eagle Scout Rank” form. The committee recommends to national BSA that the extension be granted or denied. The form needs to be accompanied by the Scout’s explanation of why more time is needed and merited. Input is needed from the Scoutmaster and other adults in regular contact with the youth in order for the council to make an assessment. So, a letter from the Scoutmaster, the committee chair or advancement chair, and any other person who has input pertinent to the case is helpful. In the event the Scout cites a medical issue as a contributor to the situation, a statement from a medical professional who is treating the Scout is needed. If learning issues are cited, a school letter or individualized learning plan summary is needed.
There are 5 tests that must be met for an extension to be granted:
- The Scout was properly enrolled in a unit throughout the time needed to complete requirements.
- A circumstance came to exist that now precludes completion before the deadline.
- The circumstance was beyond the youth’s control.
- The circumstance is severe and not the norm in the Scout’s life.
- The circumstance could not have been planned for or anticipated.
Clearly, the COVID-19 situation satisfies some of these tests, and will likely be categorized (based on input from the Central Region advancement chair) as a natural disaster. However, the other tests cannot be skimmed over lightly. The request needs to explain why a Scout is in the position of having remaining work to do with little time remaining. It must be clear that the Scout was on a path toward successful completion of all requirements as of March 13th when the first major social distancing mandates were imposed in our area. Any claims of hardship or medical/learning obstacles must be ‘not the norm’ in the Scout’s life, and evidence must be provided for what is different in the months after the Scout turned 18 vs. in the months and years before. We should not expect a blanket extension for all Scouts.
Gathering to Work on Eagle Projects
Over the past few days, it was permissible to meet only in very small groups with people who the Scout is in regular contact with, and for whom the Scout knows the recent health history and travel status. As social distancing mandates continue to tighten, any meetings outside the Scout’s family may be banned. During this time, the Scout can explore if there are alternate (e.g., electronic) ways to deliver the benefits of the project. There may be a few projects where this is possible, but most projects involve a physical installation of some type. The Scout can also determine whether his/her family is able to help with the project, but should be very careful that the leadership requirements of a valid Eagle project are not violated.
Continue Progress While Awaiting a Verdict
Some Life to Eagle candidates have requirements remaining beyond the Eagle project and a Scoutmaster conference. If possible, the Scout should continue making progress on any outstanding requirements while awaiting the outcome of an extension request. Extensions are granted for a specific period of time to complete a specific list of requirements.
Eagle Boards of Review After Age 18
A Scout must complete requirements except for the board of review before age 18, but is always allowed up to 3 months after turning 18 to complete a board of review. In the event a board of review is delayed further than 3 months for reasons beyond the Scout’s control, the local council can grant a 3 month extension. This applies only to the board of review, not to other rank requirements. A delay longer than 6 months after turning 18 requires national BSA approval. We do not know whether in this special circumstance national BSA might allow local councils to grant longer BOR extensions because of the volume of expected requests.
Submitting Eagle Binders or Retrieving Eagle Binders
Until the social distancing mandates are lifted, we won’t be passing hard copies of Eagle applications, project proposals/workbooks, or binders back and forth. Binders already submitted to the council office are not accessible. We will discuss whether it is possible to use an electronic process for this, but I have not gotten feedback from the council staff on what they can support while working remotely.
Applications and Advancement by New Scouts BSA or Crossovers
Some units are concerned that they have new Scouts who want to work on Scout rank or merit badges but are not registered in the unit yet. If units have brand new Scouts or crossovers whose applications have not yet been processed by the council, they can send the applications electronically to their DE. A blank electronic application can be provided if needed. The date of the application will serve as the Scout’s membership date in the troop so that he/she can begin advancement work.
Closing Out the Cub Scout Advancement Season
Den Leaders are asked to keep accurate records of all advancements that have been completed this spring. If Scouts have some adventure work left to complete this school year, Den Leaders can provide guidance on how to work on them with parents and document completion.
Council Coordinated Committee Cancelled
The March 28th Council Coordinated Committee meeting, where we would have held the monthly advancement committee meeting, has been canceled. We will communicate mostly by email for the next few weeks.
More to come! As you have questions and special circumstances, please pass them on.
Yours in Scouting,
Crossroads of America
Council Advancement Chair