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Sunscreen In School

This past week, a story made headlines about two young girls in Tacoma, Washington who suffered severe sunburns during their school's field day. This story has brought public attention to the fact that students cannot apply sunscreen at school, or even bring it with them. Currently, the state of California is the only exception to this rule. Because most schools have a mandatory period of play outside (short as it may be) and obviously encourage physical competition and activity with their field days and such, shouldn’t sunscreen be allowed in schools?

In the article, 2 young girls were severely sunburned during the outdoor school field day. Not only were they fair skinned, but one had a form of albinism making her particularly sun-sensitive. Their sunburns were so severe that they were taken to the hospital by their parents after school. What makes matter’s worse, during the field day one of the students witnessed a teacher applying sunscreen who remarked that it was "only for her."

Sunscreen is usually banned from schools by state laws because of the chemicals and fragrances that can potentially cause allergic reactions in the children. They are treated as an over-the-counter drug and require a physician's note in order to be transported, or used, at school. Children may wear sunscreen to school, but in many states they are not allowed to reapply as directed while on school grounds.

Yes, sunscreen does contain chemicals and fragrances, but it would be parents - those who would know which sunscreen is appropriate for the child - who would be sending sunscreen with the child to school. So, why couldn’t children use the sunscreen their parents send with them? The reasoning behind not letting teachers apply sunscreen to students is understandable; however, maybe spray-on sunscreen could be used? The risk of allergic reaction still exists, but maybe parents could sign something saying whether or not it’s ok for their child to receive sunscreen in school. In addition, many schools have banned hats in their dress code, but maybe an exception could be made for outdoor use as a preventative measure against the sun?

It is interesting that the issue of sunscreens in schools has become argument. If there are children with specialized skin conditions preventative measures can be taken for those students. Sunburns are very preventable. With a little compromise between parents and schools, maybe something can be done in the future to prevent the re-occurrence of this event.


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