Sunscreen Forbidden at Schools and Camps

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, June 28, 2012

When parents send children to school or camp, they may worry about many things, from bullies to bus accidents. But unauthorized sunscreen use?

It turns out that many schools and camps do that worrying for parents, with policies that ban kids from carrying sunscreen without a doctor's note and warn staffers not to dispense it. Such policies are getting new scrutiny this week, thanks to Jesse Michener, a mother in Tacoma, Wash., who was horrified to see two of her daughters, ages 11 and 9, return from a school field day with severe sunburns.

The girls have extremely fair skin, and none of the adults at the event offered them sunscreen — or shade, for that matter — as a rainy day turned sunny, Michener, 37, wrote in a post in her blog, Life.Photographed, that got nationwide attention. More than a week later, their skin still is peeling and red, Michener told USA TODAY Wednesday: "It's appalling."

Michener says school officials have promised her the sunscreen policy will be changed by fall, thanks to a change in state law that gives schools new leeway on handling over-the-counter drugs. Shannon McMinimee, a lawyer for Tacoma Public Schools, said in an e-mail that the school board was expected to review the policy but would need to seek guidance from state officials and health experts first.

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