Alexandria parents urged to ensure kids observe health protocols outside class

Parents of Alexandria, Virginia, students are being asked to limit their children’s activities and ensure safe practices on and off school grounds to help communities still struggling with the pandemic.

During a virtual town hall on Monday, Alexandria City Public Schools’ superintendent said keeping school doors open might depend on parents limiting sleepovers, parties, playdates and travel unless it’s essential.

“And making sure that students are wearing their mask outside of school, especially when they’re in large crowds or in indoor public spaces,” said ACPS Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings Jr., who has a doctorate in educational policy, planning and leadership.

“I know that we are all exhausted by the ongoing restrictions from this pandemic. And I also know that each of us has a role to play for the collective good of our community,” he said.

Offering tips to help kids manage mask protocols, a nurse with the Alexandria Health Department COVID-19 School Response Team suggested parents practice at home and encourage students to wear their masks consistently and correctly throughout the school day.

“We ask parents to teach their children to remove their mask pulling through the ear straps. And to avoid touching the front of the mask which can become contaminated. We recommend that you practice removing your masks safely at home with your child,” said Lena Zimmerman, an epidemiologist with Alexandria’s Health Department.

She also emphasized finding a mask that fits children well.

“A mask that fits better offers more protection, both for your child and surrounding children, and also is probably going to be more comfortable for your child to wear throughout the school day,” she said.

Other tips: Send kids to school with a paper bag for them to store their mask in during lunchtime to prevent it from getting dirty or spilled on; and send them to school with an extra mask, just in case something happens to the one they leave the house with.

“Please, please, please encourage and promote good hand hygiene while your child is at home. Make sure they’re washing their hands thoroughly,” Zimmerman said.

“If they’re not washing their hands thoroughly at home, they’re probably not washing them while at school either.”

Having kids pack hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol also is recommended “and reminding them to use that before eating or touching their face.”

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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