A national conversation has erupted about states banning students from applying sunscreen while at school or attending school events.
It was raining when Violet Michener, 11, and her sister, Zoe Michener, 9, headed out for a field day in Tacoma, WA. Their mother, Jesse Michener, didn't put sunscreen on her girls because of the forecast.
But the sun came out. And the school refused to apply any lotion, which outraged their mother.
Zoe Michener has a form of albinism that makes her particularly sun-sensitive.
When the girls came home from the school event, their mother rushed them to the hospital because their skin was so blistered.
Washington and many other states prohibit school officials from applying sunspray or lotion or allowing students to apply the product once at school. The thinking is it is a prescription medication and some could suffer an allergic reaction.
"While I can sort of wrap my brain around this in theory, the practice of a blanket police, which clearly allows for students to be put in harm's way is deeply flawed," Jesse Michener wrote in a blog post.
Dan Voelpel, a Tacoma school district spokesman, told media outlets that sunscreens have additives that can cause allergic reactions.
"We really have to monitor that," he said.
Some schools do allow for sunscreen to apply if there is a doctor's note or a parent's note on file and the product has been previously provided.
Sue Denny, a spokeswoman for the Blue Valley School District in Kansas, said district officials attempt to plan ahead when they know students will be exposed to the sun.
"Should a family need a child to wear sunscreen at school they can work with the teacher and the nurse's office," Denny said. "We would not apply sunscreen without prior consent from the parent. We would want to make sure it's a product they provided and are comfortable with."
Denny said the district has emergency numbers on file to contact parents if needed.
"We work really hard to stay in communication," she said.
In Missouri, officials with the Independence School District said no state law or district policy would prohibit teachers from applying sunscreen. But they would only do it with a parent's permission.
All-natural sunscreens are available for purchase. Mexitan Products in Rantoul, KS, sells products that draw rave reviews from environmental groups.
Mexitan owner Sandra Kleier said schools need to have plans to keep students safe in the sun.
"You can't just put it on in the morning and expect it to last all day," Kleier said.
But she said it is a valid concern that a sensitive student could have an allergic reaction to a product worn by a classmate.
"I think companies do need to make safer products to put on children . . . Everything we develop in our products we work very hard to make sure they have all safe and natural ingredients," Kleier said. "I don't know how they're going to get around not putting any sunscreen on kids."
Keeping your children safe in the sun means you should know the policies of the district that your children attend.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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