Girls Hospitalized After School Bans Sunscreen On Field Day

Sunscreen school ban, medications school, severe sunburns, Jesse Michener, Violet and Zoe Michener

The girls came home with severe sunburns.

Washington state mom Jesse Michener was irate when her two daughters, Violet, 11, and Zoe, 9, came home after school severely sunburned. Michener was so concerned over their burns, she rushed them both to the hospital immediately, reports the NY Daily News.

Michener didn’t apply sunscreen to her children before they left for their annual field trip because it was raining that morning. The day apparently cleared up and the sun came out but when it did, the girls weren’t allowed to use sunscreen because they were already in school.

ABC News reports that because sunscreen is considered a medication in all 50 states with the exception of California, children are not allowed to bring it to school or apply it to themselves. I admit this is something I’ve never heard about. My kids are not only allowed but also encouraged to bring sunscreen on outdoor trips. Just a few weeks ago on Sports Day, my son’s principal sent home emails reminding parents to apply sunscreen and have their child bring a bottle to the park.

In this case, the school didn’t even make an exception for 9-year-old Zoe who suffers from a form of albinism. The mom says teachers commented on the girls’ redness but didn’t put any sunscreen on them:

“One of my children remarked that their teacher used sunscreen in her presence and that it was ‘just for her’. At the very least, a hat might have protected the girls, but, “alas, hats are not allowed at school, even on field day.’”

The Tacoma Public School district maintains that since sunscreen has so many additives and chemicals in it, it can cause allergic reactions and that’s why it’s banned. I understand that aspect and I commend the school on recognizing the allergens in sunscreen. I am allergic to sunscreen myself but surely there is a better way to address the allergy potential without banning sunscreen entirely, given the known dangers that sunburns pose to young skin.

For kids who are allergic, wouldn’t it prove more efficient for the school to have parents list sunscreen as an allergy on the forms that ask for any allergies and then devise a plan, along with the parents for days when the kids will be outside? Similarly, if a child’s skin is sensitive to sunlight, the school needs to know that, too. Of course, every child who can wear it should have sunscreen on for protection from the UV rays. I would have no problem calling up my child’s school and say it was raining when he left but now it’s sunny, and ask for  someone to please put sunscreen on him. Then again, I know my child’s teachers and chaperones would do it anyway they’ve done it before. It seems there was not enough preparation or communication concerning these girls. It’s imperative for parents to communicate with teachers and school officials regarding their child’s health before anything happens.

In the days that followed, Michener syas the girls were sick with pain, headaches, and chills as a result of their burns. She also says she was contacted by the school district and told that a new law, was just passed on June 7 allowing school districts to “decide for themselves what is permissible and what is forbidden.”

Michener remains skeptical as she wrote on her blog, “He stated that how the law will actually shake-out for districts is still to be seen (the devil is always in the details) but that he hoped a policy revision could be achieved by October.”

Does your child’s school ban sunscreen? Is your child allergic? How do you handle sunny days?

Image: J. Michener

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