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Sunburned Kids at School: Who's to Blame?

Posted by on Jun. 21, 2012 at 7:18 PM
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Sunburned Kids at School: Who's to Blame?

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Violet and Zoe Michener came home from school sporting these severe sunburns. (Photo: Jesse Michener/lifephoto ...It was raining when her children left for school on Tuesday, so Jesse Michener did not slather them in sunscreen, even though she knew they'd be outdoors for field day later that afternoon. But the sun came out around noon and, when the kids came home, two of them were so severely sunburned that they had to go to the hospital.

"We've never done a field day at the school before," Michener told Yahoo! Shine in an interview on Thursday. "They were outside for over five hours."

A freelance photographer, she posted pictures and described her daughter's sunburns on her blog. "Two of my three children experienced significant sunburns. Like, hurts-to-look-at burns," Michener wrote. "Violet is starting to blister on her face." Both Violet, 11, and her sister, Zoe, 9, "have headaches, chills and pain" and had to stay home from school the next day. (Her youngest daughter, 7-year-old Eleanor, was also sunburned, but not badly.) The girls did not stay overnight at the hospital, and Michener said they are being treated at home with cool baths and over-the-counter pain medications.

Related: CDC says half of young adults get sunburned

To make matters worse, Zoe, has a form of Albinism -- and teachers and staff at Point Defiance Elementary School were aware of her extreme sensitivity to the sun. She even has a written agreement -- a 504 plan -- with the school because of it. And yet, teachers refused to send the girls indoors or allow them to apply sunscreen themselves, according to her mom.

"My children indicated that several adults commented on their burns at school, including staff and other parents," Michener wrote on her blog. "One of my children remarked that their teacher used sunscreen in her presence and that it was 'just for her.' So, is this an issue of passive, inactive supervision? Where is the collective awareness for student safety?"

Tacoma Public School district spokesman Dan Voelpel told Yahoo! Shine that the school district's sunscreen policy -- which forbids teachers from applying sunscreen to students, and only allows students to apply it to their own bodies if they have a doctor's note authorizing it -- is based on a statewide law.

"Our policy follows the state law which allows district to establish the rules for how medications, both over-the-counter and prescription medication, is handled in the school," he said. "Our policy is that any of that medication requires a doctor's order for kids to take it at school. This is really to protect other students who could be exposed to various medications that they could be allergic to." The federal Food and Drug Administration considers sunscreen to be an over-the-counter medication.

While Michener says that she takes full responsibility for not making them put on sunscreen before bringing them to school that day -- none of her kids have ever come home from school with sunburns before, she notes. She also points out that teachers had other options besides breaking the law: They could have sent the girls indoors when they noticed the burns getting bad, or called Michener and asked her to come to school and put sunscreen on them herself. (The FDA suggests that sunscreen be reapplied every two hours.)

"Something as simple as a sun hat might seem to bypass the prescription issue to some extent," she wrote. "Alas, hats are not allowed at school, even on field day."

"It was an exceptional day, with exceptional inability to serve these kids," she told Yahoo! Shine.

Michener is asking the school district to consider crafting a more "parent-friendly" policy on sunscreens, one that would allow parents to sign a waiver giving teachers permission to apply sunscreen while at school, or one that would allow teachers to act in their students' best interests. Voelpel told Yahoo! Shine that there currently is not a procedure in place for parents who have trouble getting a doctor's note, but "We periodically review our policies as situations change," he said. "I can't say whether this one will be revised based on this case."

Michener says that her daughters' sunburns are really part of a larger problem.

"My biggest beef is that teachers are not able to make good decisions about kids safety," she said. "Fear of litigation is preventing us from living our lives and taking care of our kids."

Copyright © 2012 Yahoo Inc.

 

by on Jun. 21, 2012 at 7:18 PM
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Replies (1-10):
desertlvn
by Silver Member on Jun. 21, 2012 at 7:22 PM
3 moms liked this

I say Mom is to blame.

As a teacher I soooo don't want to be rubbing chemicals and unapproved substances on children. I also want parents to know that when children are outside for H2O day or field day EVERYONE'S faces get red.... not just kids getting sun burns. If I had my way, these special outdoor play days would be eliminated, but until then, please provide your children with everything they are going to need for being in the sun, or write a note asking for your child to stay inside.

Sekirei
by Nari Trickster on Jun. 21, 2012 at 7:31 PM

I say the mom

at the school, even I, as a lowly lunch clerk, we are told we cannot put sunblock on the kids, because of allergy fears. Plus, even on an overcast day, you can still get severely sunburned.. trust me. I have scars from the last sunburn I had.

norahsmommy
by Bronze Member on Jun. 21, 2012 at 7:36 PM
The parents. I am extremely fair and so are my children ( except my oldest). I HAVE to wear sun block or wide hats and long sleeve shirts and pants outside if it is the least bit sunny and I can burn in the winter. I assume my kids will burn just as easily and they are protected. Sun screen wears off after a while so I would make sure my kids have extra and that they apply it when they go out for the feild day. I normally volunteer for feild day and make sure my kids have sun screen on as well as any others who look like they might burn easily. That mom should have made sure her child was protected.
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collectivecow
by Gold Member on Jun. 21, 2012 at 7:37 PM
1 mom liked this

Can children not apply sunscreen of their own in school now?

Sekirei
by Nari Trickster on Jun. 21, 2012 at 7:39 PM


Quoting collectivecow:

Can children not apply sunscreen of their own in school now?

sure, if the mom sends it. (well, I know they can here...)

Tara922c
by on Jun. 21, 2012 at 7:40 PM

It is the mom's fault.

Did the girls have their own sunscreen at school? If I knew my child sunburned easily, I would make sure she had sunscreen on the day of field day, regardless of how cloudy/raining the weather was. If my child had a sensitivity to sun, I would make sure she wore a cap and long sleeve shirt to school on field day. True, the teachers could have sent the little girls inside, but the same mom would probably complain that her children had to sit inside while all the rest of the kids had fun. Also, maybe the teachers did not notice how red the little girls were getting? All the kids get flushed outside. The worse sunburn I have ever had in my life was when I went to a beach, on a cloudy day, for under two hours, and had no sunscreen on. I did not realise I was sunburned until I took a shower an hour after we had left the beach. Sometimes it takes time for the sunburn to really set in.

IMO, the mom sent the girls to school without sunscreen. She could have A. brought sunscreen up to the school, or B. Called the school and asked for her daughters to remain indoors during field day. My daughter tans easily and has never had a sunburn. I would never send her to school on field day without sunscreen.

MeAndTommyLee
by Platinum Member on Jun. 21, 2012 at 7:44 PM
2 moms liked this

Oh, Geez....just pack the kids w/sunscreen!  Simple, right?  Why does everything have to be a national emergency?  And how does the media get hold of these stories anyway.  This is NON-news.

kam013
by Silver Member on Jun. 21, 2012 at 7:47 PM

The article says "they can only apply it to themselves if there is a Doctors note."  It's a statewide policy.

I say Mom, she knew the policy, she should have put it on regardless of the weather knowing the kids would be outdoors.

Quoting Sekirei:


Quoting collectivecow:

Can children not apply sunscreen of their own in school now?

sure, if the mom sends it. (well, I know they can here...)


Sekirei
by Nari Trickster on Jun. 21, 2012 at 7:56 PM

ohh.. that is what I get for not reading the entire article... 

Quoting kam013:

The article says "they can only apply it to themselves if there is a Doctors note."  It's a statewide policy.

I say Mom, she knew the policy, she should have put it on regardless of the weather knowing the kids would be outdoors.

Quoting Sekirei:


Quoting collectivecow:

Can children not apply sunscreen of their own in school now?

sure, if the mom sends it. (well, I know they can here...)



GotSomeKids
by Silver Member on Jun. 21, 2012 at 7:59 PM
1 mom liked this

Parents.  Parents should know one of the worst times to be out is in cloudy whether and said sun rays can still penetrate the clouds.  If she knew they were going to be out all day for field day, she should have put sunblock on just in case.

And really, is the school responsible to purchase sunblock and slather every child down before they go outside?

Better safe than sorry. 

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