I live in Arizona.
These are my children.
The weather forecast for next week when they go back to class is sunny with a high between 106 and 108 degrees.
And yet, they aren’t allowed to put sunscreen on at school unless they have a doctor’s note on file with the school nurse.
That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard and I’ve heard a lot of dumb things.
Fortunately, Arizona is one of a handful of states that recognizes the absurdity of this rule.
Earlier this year, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law House Bill 2134, which allows parents to send kids to school with sunscreen — and allows kids to apply it — without a doctor’s note and without visiting school nurse.
The law takes effect Aug. 9.
So I guess that means my kids will burn on the playground Monday and Tuesday during recess, but will be safely protected by the sunscreen in their backpacks starting Wednesday.
Tell me why we actually need a law for this?
I am told we need to legislate parents’ ability to keep our own kids from getting skin cancer because sunscreen is considered an over-the-counter drug by the Food and Drug Administration.
That means its regulated in schools the same way that Tylenol or allergy medications are.
Thankfully, a new research paper by the Pew Charitable Trusts suggests that a push for sunscreen in schools by a coalition of medical groups — including the American Academy of Dermatology Association and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association — is gaining traction.
States making changes
Already this year, six states have passed laws allowing children to apply sunscreen at school without a doctor’s note. States jumping on this logical “well duh” bandwagon include: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Utah and Washington.
States that previously had lifted the ban against school application of sunscreen include California, New York, Oregon and Texas, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts research paper.
Aaron Martin, an education and litigation attorney at Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix thinks more states will follow suit.
“I think this issue has simply reached a point where grassroots support among parents has swelled such that lawmakers can no longer ignore parents’ pleas for change,” Martin said.
“Now that there is a critical mass of people pushing for looser restrictions, I think you will see more states allow students to bring sunscreen.”
Not to mention the safety ramifications in sunshine belt states.
“This is a big issue in a state filled with 300-plus days of sunshine,” Arizona Republican Rep. Heather Carter told The Arizona Republic after introducing the bill.
Re-application is critical
My kids arrive at school a full 25 minutes before they go to class and they spend that entire time outside on the playground.
They go to recess at lunch and twice during the day. They have “active” in their after-school program, which is also outside.
Putting sunscreen on our children before they leave for school is simply not enough. It has to be reapplied throughout the day to be effective.
And while its insane that we have to pass laws to allow parents to simply protect their children from melanoma, I hope Martin is right and that more states move in this direction.
It just makes sense.
“Schools in Arizona recognize the importance of allowing their students to carry water bottles during the day,” Martin said. “Schools should also recognize that being able to apply sunscreen is a similar health issue for these students.”