WASHINGTON (AP) _ Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon says city officials should consider giving condoms to students of District of Columbia public schools.

''I've always been of a mind that, when appropriate, we ought to also issue condoms or whatever is necessary,'' Dixon said. ''This is a life-and-death issue.''

Her comment came amid criticism from some parents and school officials on an earlier proposal by her to reinstitute corporal punishment in the city's public schools. Critics called that statement thoughtless and irresponsible.

Dixon's comments on condoms will be aired April 24 on WHMM-TV's ''Straight Talk: Sex, Teens and the '90s.'' They were reported in today's editions of The Washington Times.

''This is a concept,'' said the mayor's press secretary, Vada Manager. ''She hasn't prepared legislation ... she thinks it should be explored.''

Teachers union President William Simons agreed with Dixon. ''There is no way we can stop them (youths) from engaging in sexual activities, so we ought to make it possible that they engage in safe sex.''

Delabian Rice-Thurston of Parents United conceded that there are problems involving teen pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases, but said condom distribution may not be the answer.

''I think it would be difficult to get a consensus on the condoms,'' Rice- Thurston said. ''There is a consensus that we don't need pregnant teen- agers, that children don't need AIDS. But parents are of many minds on how to solve those problems.''

Dixon is in Los Angeles until Sunday attending a black public administrators' conference.