Reopening: What to consider before sending older children to summer camps

Navigating camps during a pandemic is not an easy task.  Thankfully Dr. Ashley Moss has laid out some important points to think about before sending your child out the door.

COVID restrictions have forced a healthy reprieve from our overscheduled, hectic lives but now that some summer activities and camps are reopening, a little bit of structure, exercise, and time with friends sounds appealing.  So are “socially distanced” summer camps something that would work for your family?  Just like child care, each family is different in terms of the risk that they are able, due to underlying medical conditions, or willing to accept.  Here are a few important things to consider when deciding if summer camp this summer is right for your family.

  • Will the camp be regularly following and implementing the CDC’s guidelines for summer camps? The CDC outlines measures to promote behaviors that decrease the risk of infection spread, guidelines for safe operations, and protocol for what to do when someone becomes sick at camp.
  • How will camps monitor campers and staff daily for COVID-19 symptoms?If a child develops symptoms while at camp, how will the camp manage sick children and facilitate their safe departure?  Will the camp notify other families if a child tests positive for COVID and what will the policy be?  Will the camp close and if so for how long?
  • How will the camp encourage social distancing?
  • How much time will campers spend outside and how much time, if any, inside?
  • Who will be required to wear face coverings at camp?When at camp will face coverings be required?
  • How will infection control strategies (social distancing, hand washing, proper use of face coverings) be implemented?
  • Does the camp have adequate supply of tissues, hand soap, hand sanitizer, and cleaning products?How will the camp be effectively cleaning and disinfecting surfaces?
  • What will be the maximum number of campers per group?Will the same staff be assigned to the same group everyday?
  • How and how often will shared areas (bathrooms, lunch tables and craft rooms) be cleaned?

It is important for each family to weigh the benefit of summer camp against the risk of exposure to the virus.  If your child has an underlying medication condition such as chronic lung disease, asthma, heart problems, severe obesity, diabetes, kidney or liver disease, or are immunocompromised, or if your children are exposed to elderly grandparents or someone who is immunocompromised, you consider alternative activities to summer camps where even small groups of people will increase your child’s risk of exposure to the virus.

We at Spring Valley Pediatrics are more than happy to discuss any questions that you may have and help you make the best decision for your family.



The novel coronavirus has changed our lives dramatically in the past two months and is not going away any time soon.  At Spring Valley Pediatrics we continue to update our practice policies based on CDC recommendations and provide patients with a variety of appointment options including in person, telemedicine and drive up.  DC and the surrounding area is still seeing an increase in COVID-19 positive patients but thankfully testing is more readily available with faster results than even a few weeks ago.
Starting Monday, May 11th, we will be offering our patients and their household members the option to do drive-up coronavirus testing.  Appointments can be made Monday through Friday afternoon for one of our physicians to come to your car, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, to perform a coronavirus test.  These appointments are for testing only and will not include vital signs or an exam.  If your child is having more severe symptoms, an appointment in our isolation room with one of our physicians is the appropriate way to be tested. That way your child’s vital signs can be checked and a physical exam can be performed.
Patients appropriate for drive up testing include those with mild symptoms; a history of asthma, diabetes, or other chronic illness; those with household members who have chronic illnesses, are pregnant, or are over the age of 60; or those who require testing for work or surgery.  Expect a phone call from our office with results.
Please call our office to schedule your drive-up coronavirus testing and be sure to continue to check our website and social media for office updates.

A Letter to our Parents: Modeling Perseverance during COVID 19

Every parent is exhausted right now – working from home, helping with remote learning, serving three meals a day to their family – plus the normal worry that comes with a public health crisis like we are dealing with.  Thankfully Dr. Ashley Moss has some great ideas for keeping ourselves sane (and therefore, our kids happy) during these unusual times.

This is a stressful time for parents! We are worried about the health of our children, families, and communities, we miss socializing with friends and grocery shopping without masks, gloves and the fear of infecting ourselves or others. Combine this overall anxiety with the daily stressors of our new reality – working from home, managing difficult financial decisions, supporting distance learning for older children at different grade levels, and balancing child care for younger children. There are silver linings of course, a slower pace of life often reveals what is genuinely important like spending more time with our family, caring for our community and making sacrifices for the greater public good. I have heard many parents report new milestones like teaching a daughter to ride a bike or to a son to read. Families are cooking meals together, spending more time at the dinner table and staying up late watching movies or playing board games with their kids.

We don’t know how long this will last but we do know that as parents, we can control the way we respond to these challenges that can positively impact our children. Our children need our leadership to teach them how to cope when life is really hard. I recently read a blog from Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry that had excellent tips for parents dealing with COVID-19. You may read the entire blog here. I found the most important points to be the following: take care of yourself and model coping for your children; limit access to news; normalize and validate anxiety; be active; and shift perspective so that you focus on the positive aspects of this new, but temporary life. There are also great suggestions for non digital and digital games to play with others; coping skills for managing anxiety; ways to visit museums, take field trips, and experience Broadway shows virtually!

Let us know if you have questions. We are still seeing patients every day and it is our priority to do our part to help our families through this difficult time. Researchers and clinicians are engaged in a tremendous amount of COVID related research on testing, vaccines, and treatments. All of us here at Spring Valley Pediatrics are confident that we will get through this together.

COVID-19 Testing

Updated Scheduling Options

COVID-19 Practice Update


White House Nannies

As a pediatrician, I get asked lots of questions about having children that don’t fall into the “medical advice” category. Everything from advice about different pre-schools to my favorite place to host a birthday party. One area that comes up frequently is nannies – how to find them, what to ask them, how to keep them. Sadly these topics are not covered in medical school though some may argue they should be!

I do offer some child care tips to my families searching for the perfect person to care for their little ones. Getting recommendations and following up on references is key. So is making sure your nanny is CPR certified and up to date on vaccines (this includes being on board with getting the yearly flu shot). It’s also a good idea to discuss sick day policies ahead of time and coming up with an agreed-upon plan for when the nanny is sick or your child is. Being on the same page regarding feeding, boundaries, and sleeping is also important. If you plan to have your child cry it out for naps but your nanny intends to rock her to sleep, you are going to have some disagreements. Beyond that most of my nanny recommendations come from my experience as a mom and the lucky employer of the best nanny ever.

That’s why Spring Valley Pediatrics is bringing in professionals to answer the myriad other childcare questions we know you have. On Thursday, January 23rd at 7pm, Barbara Kline, the owner of White House Nannies, will be at our office answering all of your nanny questions. Come ready to raise your hand – we look forward to hosting you!

Mosquito Bite Treatment

We all know D.C. is a mosquito haven but thankfully Dr. Jessica Long from Spring Valley Pediatrics has some tips to keep your children comfortable and itch-free!

It’s August in D.C. which means my children are scratching like crazy at a myriad of bug bites all over their sweet little bodies.  It doesn’t matter how aggressively I spray, pat, or wipe them down with bug repellant, those pesky mosquitos find them (my middle child is apparently especially delicious) and I get to hear the gripes all day long.  They itch and it is not fun.  What’s a parent to do?

You probably already have the prevention piece down (and if not, read my past post) but no matter how diligent you are, one or two little bugs are going to find their way through the haze of DEET.  Mosquito bites tend to be pink, slightly raised, itchy, and can have some swelling especially if they are on the face or ankle (tick or spider bites have different characteristics and may require different treatment).  Kids’ skin tends to react more than adults’ skin, so their mosquito bites will often look bigger than your own.

It’s easier said than done, but try to encourage your child not to scratch the bite.  It will only irritate the area, making it even itchier, and can also lead to infection.  Placing an ice pack or a cool washcloth on the area can help reduce the itch, as can a steroid cream (such as 1% hydrocortisone cream) which can be applied two to three times a day.  Other topical treatments like calamine lotion can be incredibly soothing as well.

Sometimes all the creams in the world just don’t take the edge off and your kid is still miserable, especially at bedtime.  Benadryl for fast relief or a longer acting allergy medication might be a good choice, but be sure to discuss the medication and the proper dose with your pediatrician.  A mosquito bite itches for about 3-4 days so you’ll want to keep up treatment for at least that length of time.


Hopefully these tips will help you and your kids enjoy the outdoors all summer long!

Head Lice

Back to school comes with lots of fun things – a new backpack and lunch box, seeing old friends and making new ones, the start of Fall.  Unfortunately, it also causes an increase in the amount of lice we see in our office.  While harmless, these bugs are irritating for the whole family and can lead to absences from school and work.  This school year, be armed with the knowledge of how to prevent and, if needed, treat these pesky uninvited guests.


What are lice?

Lice are tiny gray bugs that can infest the scalp.  They are about the size of a sesame seed and move quickly so can be difficult to see.  What you often do find are their white eggs, called nits, which firmly attached to hair shafts near the skin.  Unlike dandruff or sand, nits cannot easily be shaken off the hair shaft.  Most people who get lice complain of an itchy scalp. Lice do not carry diseases and will not make you feel sick.


Lice life cycle

Nits hatch into lice in about one week.  They can survive off the scalp during that time which makes cleaning your house imperative when treating a lice infection in the family.  Adult lice can live three weeks on the scalp and feed every few hours on tiny amounts of blood from the scalp.  Off the scalp, adult lice cannot survive for more than one day without a blood meal.



Nits cannot pass from person to person; only live lice can infect other people. Almost all transmission is from direct head-to-head contact.  Since lice cannot jump or fly, it takes about 30 minutes of direct contact for a louse to crawl from one head to another.  However, indirect transmission from hats, hairbrushes, headphones and other objects is possible though less common.  Most transmission of lice happens at home, through sleepovers and bed sharing.



Anti-lice shampoo (such as Nix which is over the counter) is the mainstay of treatment and requires two treatments so be sure to follow the package directions. Prescription anti-lice medication such as Sklice, is also available and requires only one application.  Discuss with your doctor if this is a good choice for your family.

When using the anti-lice shampoo, first wash hair with a regular shampoo and towel dry.  Do not use conditioner on the hair as it interferes with the lice treatment.  Pour 2 ounces (one box of Nix if that’s what you are using) into damp hair.  People with long hair may need to use two boxes.  Work the cream into all the hair down to the roots and add a little warm water if needed to work up a lather.  Leave the shampoo on for a full 10 minutes and then rinse the hair thoroughly with water and towel dry.  Again, do not use conditioner.  Do not shampoo the hair for 48 hours after application of anti-lice shampoo and avoid hair conditioner before treatment as well as for 2 weeks after.

Most importantly, most over the counter shampoos require that you repeat the entire process 9 days later to kill any nits that survived.  Since nits hatch 6-9 days after being laid, the second treatment will ensure that lice that hatch from surviving nits are also killed.


Preventing Spread

Now that the hair is under control, it’s time to address the house.  Vacuum your child’s room thoroughly as well as the rest of the house.  Soak hairbrushes for 1 hour in a solution containing anti-lice shampoo.  Wash bed sheets, blankets, pillowcases and any clothes worn in the past three days in hot water; water temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit kills lice and nits.  For items that cannot be easily washed, such as hats or stuffed animals, place them in sealed plastic bags for 2 weeks to ensure that all nits and lice are dead.  Remind family members not to share combs or hairbrushes to prevent passing lice in the future.


Most importantly

Don’t stress!  Lice infection does not happen because of a lack of cleanliness – it just happens. If you follow the above steps, lice and their nits should be successfully killed.  Children can return to school and daycare after treatment with an anti-lice shampoo.  A child does not need to miss any school or childcare due to nits remaining after treatment since nits are not contagious.  Always contact your doctor if you are unsure if your family has lice, are unable to successfully treat them with the above steps, or have additional questions.

Wishing you a happy and lice free school year!