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Sunburned Kids at School: Who's to Blame?

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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
Replies (11-20):
GotSomeKids
by Silver Member on Jun. 21, 2012 at 8:01 PM

I put it on them before they leave for school.

Quoting collectivecow:

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


smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Jun. 21, 2012 at 8:08 PM

I was going to say it was the Mom's fault until I saw the teachers refused to let the kids go inside and even commented on how they were getting burned at school. They ended up with sun poisoning it sounds like. They saw the kids were getting sick and wouldn't let them get away from what was making them sick. 

Aislinn
by Silver Member on Jun. 21, 2012 at 8:10 PM

 I have to get a doctors note if I want the school to apply sunblock to my child... smh 

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jun. 21, 2012 at 8:10 PM

It is indeed my responsibility to supply my child with sun screen while she is in school.  However, it must stay in the nurse's office and must be applied there as well.  The nurse is only in two times a week.  

We've had this issue more than once at the beginning of the school year.  Now, I tell my daughter to take her sun screen in to the restroom with her and put it on.  It is kept in her backpack.  It is small enough so she can carry it with her.

I get that kids aren't going to always remember to reapply, or to apply it to begin with.  I also get that school staff isn't going to make it a priority.  It's a difficult situation at times.

Aislinn
by Silver Member on Jun. 21, 2012 at 8:12 PM


Quoting collectivecow:

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

 Huh. I did not ask if the kiddo could put it on himself. I am thinking no because I was told if I send sunblock, I have to send a doctors note. 

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jun. 21, 2012 at 8:12 PM


Quoting GotSomeKids:

I put it on them before they leave for school.

Quoting collectivecow:

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


I used to as well.  I would have my daughter put it on herself.

But if it isn't able to be re-applied as it should be, there can be some devastating consequences.

If any of the staff where my daughter attends acted in the manner the teachers did in this story, there would be one pissed off parent in their office.

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." ~ Maya Angelou

cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Jun. 21, 2012 at 8:12 PM

The safest thing to do is send some to school with the child. Sunscreen doesn't last all day, so if the outside even is in the afternoon, applying sunscreen in the morning before a child leaves won't help at all. It will have worn off by then.



ms-superwoman
by Silver Member on Jun. 21, 2012 at 8:15 PM
You have to have a doctors note for sunscreen! You have got to be kidding me! So even if the mom packed sunscreen without a doctors note the kids couldn't use it anyway? So now parents have to spend $100+ on a doctor visit to get a note saying a child can use sunscreen? Seriously? Isn't it an obvious that kids being outside need sunscreen? If the teachers new the girls had a sensativity to the sun, why couldn't they have gone inside? This could have been easily avoided by both parties. Poor girl have to suffer at the hands of irresponsible adults.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
LadyBugMom09
by Silver Member on Jun. 21, 2012 at 8:20 PM
I say the mom. We do know that temperatures can change throughout the day, right? Just because it was cloudy in the morning doesn't mean it's going to be cloudy all day.put some sun block in their back packs.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
collectivecow
by Gold Member on Jun. 21, 2012 at 8:27 PM

I don't think if I asked YOU specifically: My question was geared towards whether or not schools would allow children to put on their own sunscreen if brought to school.

Quoting Aislinn:


Quoting collectivecow:

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

 Huh. I did not ask if the kiddo could put it on himself. I am thinking no because I was told if I send sunblock, I have to send a doctors note. 



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