Protecting Your Child During Summer Activities
The Alexandria Health Department (AHD) recognizes that it has been a difficult 16 months for individuals and families in our community. With children under the age of 12 not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, many families wonder what they can do to stay safe this summer. AHD also recognizes that while staying at home may be the safest option to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is not always possible. Summer programs are essential for youth socialization, educational enrichment, physical activity, mental health, and overall well-being. Summer programs also offer parents and guardians a safe and affordable childcare option. If you choose to enroll your child in summer programs (e.g., in-person learning, summer camp, swim lessons), here are some helpful tips and tricks to keep your family safe:
- Get your child vaccinated if they are 12 years of age or older, and encourage your friends and family who are also eligible for the vaccines to get vaccinated. Information about the COVID-19 vaccines is available here.
- Monitor your child daily for symptoms of COVID-19.
- If your child demonstrates any of these symptoms, keep them home and seek testing for COVID-19 immediately.
- Even if you suspect it is “just a cold or allergies,” get your child tested as soon as possible.
- On pool/water days, send your child to camp with an extra face mask in a resealable plastic bag (to keep the mask dry) and hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol).
- Encourage your child to keep their mask on throughout the day. If your child says that their mask is uncomfortable, try finding a different mask that fits more comfortably.
- If there is COVID-19 at your child’s summer program, know what to expect.
- Pursuant to Section 32.1-37 of the Code of Virginia, summer camps and schools are required to immediately report disease outbreaks to the local health department.
- If your child is identified as a close contact (within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more and/or direct exposure to an infectious individual’s respiratory secretions), they will need to quarantine at home for 14 days and get tested, in order to help prevent the spread of illness.
- AHD will call close contacts. Help us stop the spread of COVID-19 by answering the call.
- Our team will reach out (as part of the contact tracing process) to ask whether your child is experiencing any symptoms; to provide guidance on quarantine and testing; to answer any other questions you may have.
- Ask the director of your child’s summer program(s) about their COVID-19 prevention measures and policies. For example,
- Will the program reimburse parents if their child is placed in isolation or quarantine?
- Will the program require testing of staff and/or campers before participation?
- Will the program ask staff and/or children 12 years of age and older to show proof of vaccination?
- Will the program screen attendees daily for symptoms and/or known exposure to COVID-19?
- Will children be kept in pods/cohorts throughout the summer program? Do the pods/cohorts mingle?
- Will children have assigned seats to limit their exposure to other children and facilitate contact tracing?
- How frequently will high-touch surfaces and shared equipment (e.g., playgrounds, toys, electronics) be disinfected?
- Suppose participants cannot maintain six feet of physical distance. Will the program require children and staff to wear masks indoors and outdoors?
- Consider getting your child tested for COVID-19 regularly, even if they don’t have symptoms.
- Getting your child tested for COVID-19 weekly can help identify asymptomatic cases and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
- Testing is crucial if members of your household are unable to get the COVID-19 vaccine or are immunocompromised.
- If getting tested weekly is too difficult, consider getting tested before and after travel and before visiting vulnerable individuals (e.g., elderly family members or individuals who are immunocompromised).