Green Room

Middle schoolers severely sunburned on school trip after teacher deny them sunscreen

posted at 1:02 pm on June 24, 2012 by

A Tacoma, Wa., mother is seeing red because that was the color of her daughters’ skin when they arrived home from a school outing last week. The children, ages 9 and 11, were so severely sunburned that both required treatment at a local hospital, all because of an obscure law requiring schools to prohibit the use of sunscreen by students.

The mother, Jesse Michener, told ABC News that she was horrified when she first laid eyes on her daughters at the end of the school day. But the teacher was merely following a statute, which is enforced in all states but California, that children are not allowed to carry sunscreen to school or apply it during school hours. For liability reasons, sunscreen is viewed as an over-the-counter medication requiring a prescription.

Dan Voelpel, a spokesman with the Tacoma School District, told ABC, “Because so many additives in lotions and sunscreens cause an allergic reaction in some children, we have to really monitor that.” The argument fails to account for the multitude of hypoallergenic sunscreens made expressly for children that are on the market.

Jesse Michener has a personal stake in seeing the blanket policy overturned. One of her daughters has a form of Albinism that makes her especially susceptible to harm from the sun’s rays. The child, Michener wrote at her blog last Wednesday, “is starting to blister on her face. Both children have headaches, chills and pain.”

Michener claims that consciousness-raising efforts have borne fruit. She writes that after the story went public, she received a call from the director of Elementary Education in Tacoma Public Schools informing her that henceforth districts would decide for themselves what’s allowed and what’s not.

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Yet again are we witness to a problem (Crisis!) mfd by gov’t ineptitude, meddling where it doesn’t belong… and the proposed solutions are “raising awareness” to bring about even more gov’t regulation.

Lather, rinse, repeat, ad infinitum ad nauseum. *gr-rrr*

“Ask not what your TEA Party an do for you…” ~ DeepWheat

DeepWheat on June 24, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Albinism? Are you freaking kidding me? The kid has NO natural protection from UV, and she can’t use sunscreen at school? REALLY?!

I’m going to facepalm so hard, I risk a concussion…

gryphon202 on June 24, 2012 at 1:21 PM

I have to wonder if the mother even thought to see to it her children has a RX for this field trip for sunscreen? I guess the schools are cya, but you would think a little common sense would say that child with Albinism would at least be given sunscreen? Guess not, maybe they didn’t even bring any?

On a related kids field trip, have you seen this?

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/middle-schoolers-kicked-out-of-911-memorial-for-throwing-trash-in-fountains/
L

letget on June 24, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Okay so why don’t the schools just require a permission to use slip from the parents and let the parents supply the sunscreen? After all they do that with all kinds of prescription drugs every day.

Deanna on June 24, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Okay so why don’t the schools just require a permission to use slip from the parents and let the parents supply the sunscreen? After all they do that with all kinds of prescription drugs every day.

Deanna on June 24, 2012 at 1:31 PM

That’s a good question. I can’t help but think the parents may have been a little remiss, but that still doesn’t excuse the school’s gross negligence. In loco parentis? Bah.

gryphon202 on June 24, 2012 at 1:40 PM

As a mother of two young children, I feel very badly that these children were sunburned. I’m so sorry they are suffering that pain and discomfort. That being said, as a mother I also take notice when notes are sent home about field trips (parent’s permission is always required in advance) and apply sunscreen myself to my children on any day when there is even a remote possibility that they may be in the sun excessively. It’s what I do to take care of them, and I consider it part of my job. I am also the wife of a grade school principal. Can you imagine what would have happened if a well-meaning teacher had applied sunscreen and these children had had a violent allergic reaction to that suncreen? Lawsuit-arama.

Nothing prevented this mother from going to the school and applying sunscreen to her children herself, particularly since she was well aware of her children’s serious skin condition. She could have also simply procured a doctor’s note stating that sunscreen was medically necessary. Also, I read the blog post of the parent in question, and one commenter noted that hats (which would have been very helpful in this situation) ARE allowed outside according to the school’s handbook. Parents clamor incessantly about schools overriding parents’ rights and desires, but are also wanting schools to know and consider every aspect of their child’s individual needs, even medical conditions which they may not be aware of. At some point you have to be a proactive (as opposed to simply reactive) advocate for your child and know that if you have to take measures to protect your child with a special need (i.e. read the school’s handbook so that you know that you can send them with hats, get a doctor’s note so that your child can have sunscreen applied, etc.) then as a caring parent, you do it.

pianomomma on June 24, 2012 at 1:52 PM

pianomomma on June 24, 2012 at 1:52 PM

you raise a point to be sure. however in this case i find the most offensive issue to be that the children’s teachers NOTICED the burns and refused point blank to either call the mother or to send the children inside so the burns would not get worse. to me that sends a strong message to the parents that the teachers just did not give a darn .

katee bayer on June 24, 2012 at 2:05 PM

I get it that perhaps the mother could have been more proactive. HOWEVER, this is just another case of leftist governmental overreach. The libtards claim that they care and that what they do is “for the children”–except when what they do harms the children because they fail to recognize that not everybody is the same and they fail to take into account all variables when they pass their zero-tolerance rules, but then again, I thought individuality was a foundation of leftist ideology, oh, except I forget that to Commie/Marxists us peons and peasants are all alike, expected to walk in lockstep with the party. No room for thinking or humaneness here.

stukinIL4now on June 24, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Somehow, children have grown up, humans have survived for thousands of years, without sunscreen – the modern fear of the sun is a form of mass hysteria – mass metal illness – it is a hoax of epic proportions.

Pork-Chop on June 24, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Somehow, children have grown up, humans have survived for thousands of years, without sunscreen – the modern fear of the sun is a form of mass hysteria – mass MENTAL illness – it is a hoax of epic proportions.

Pork-Chop on June 24, 2012 at 2:13 PM

I love stories like this of parent outrage. What else do they expect when handing their children over to the government?

Dante on June 24, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Somehow, children have grown up, humans have survived for thousands of years, without sunscreen – the modern fear of the sun is a form of mass hysteria – mass MENTAL illness – it is a hoax of epic proportions.

Pork-Chop on June 24, 2012 at 2:13 PM

These children were ill because of their sun exposure. Physically sick. It wasn’t just a painful burn, Butch. Someone screwed up here. Might have been the parents, might have been the school. Might have been both. But someone screwed up.

gryphon202 on June 24, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Lawsuit! Endangering Children! I’ll bet the teacher didn’t get sunburned!

RoadRunner on June 24, 2012 at 3:22 PM

Okay so why don’t the schools just require a permission to use slip from the parents and let the parents supply the sunscreen? After all they do that with all kinds of prescription drugs every day.

Deanna on June 24, 2012 at 1:31 PM

If that is how your school district handles prescription administration they are opening themselves up for a lawsuit. In most school districts that still administer medications Rx drugs/lotions etc require a form with a physician/np signature, a parents signature alone isn’t good enough. The meds have to come in their original container & be properly labeled.
OTC’s have to be in sealed container/box & be accompanied by a district approved parental permission slip, and also in some cases a doctor/np signature.

It’s possible in that school there is no school nurse and there are no meds of any kind allowed on school property due to “Zero Tolerance” drug rules.

The world has gone crazy.

batterup on June 24, 2012 at 3:52 PM

wasn’t there a story about a kid who had breathing trouble at school and the nurse had his inhaler but didn’t do anything? this reminds me of that story!! kids are noticeably hurt and the stupid school system does nothing to help, because they are afraid of a lawsuit! sad.

Sachiko on June 24, 2012 at 4:04 PM

And yet, Planned Parenthood has set up shop in a high school in California… Teen health clinics on campus distribute contraceptives in schools in Virginia…

I’d be curious to know if students can get contraceptives in this district. I sincerely hope not.

pannw on June 24, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Grew up in the high desert. Had burns worse than that. The kids will live and hopefully the parents have learned a lesson. So many things Mom could have done to prevent it.

Allahs vulva on June 24, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Most of our schools in Western Australia would have required those kids to wear sun-protective clothing, hats and sunscreen. From our “Sun-Smart Schools” policy:

– All staff and students at the school wear a broad brimmed, legionnaire or a bucket style hat (with a deep crown and brim width of at least 6 cm) whenever they are outdoors.
– Clothing that covers as much skin as possible is provided as part of the school uniform/dress code: for example, midriff and singlet tops are not appropriate.
– Children are encouraged to use available areas of shade for outdoor activities.
– Staff are requested and parents are encouraged to act as role models by following sun protection measures.
– The use of SPF 30+ broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen is encouraged with time for application allowed.

There were even sunscreen dispensers in the bathrooms of the local primary school I used to volunteer at. And of course, a “no hat, no play” policy.

Although in general I chafe at the level of Nanny State-ism in Australia as compared to America, it sounds like when it comes to government schools America is crazy is its own special way.

s_dog on June 24, 2012 at 5:03 PM

Wtf?
Its not as if they ingest the stuff

cmsinaz on June 24, 2012 at 6:28 PM

If that is how your school district handles prescription administration they are opening themselves up for a lawsuit…

batterup on June 24, 2012 at 3:52 PM

One of the USA’s worst crises:

We have 6% of the world’s population, but more than 40% of the world’s lawyers.

itsnotaboutme on June 24, 2012 at 6:29 PM

This isn’t the 1950′s anymore when June Cleaver was home and could run to the school to apply sunscreen or remove unwanted peanuts from the close contact. Mothers might be at work and unable to get to the school.

They’re not allowed to play kickball or tag or run on the playground. Why are they outside anyway. Kept them in a dark room until it’s time to go home. They can practice putting a condom on a cucumber, that’s all the exercise they need.

/

vityas on June 24, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Okay so why don’t the schools just require a permission to use slip from the parents and let the parents supply the sunscreen? After all they do that with all kinds of prescription drugs every day.

Deanna on June 24, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Until now they were not allowed. A permission slip doesn’t give a school district the ability to ignore state statutes.

Capitalist Hog on June 24, 2012 at 8:16 PM

I wonder if the teachers were allowed while the students were not.

Capitalist Hog on June 24, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Grew up in the high desert. Had burns worse than that. The kids will live and hopefully the parents have learned a lesson. So many things Mom could have done to prevent it.

Allahs vulva on June 24, 2012 at 4:44 PM

One of the kids was an albino, AV. That presents some rather unique challenges I’d imagine you’d never have to face, unless you per chance happened to have been born with white hair, ashen skin, and red irises.

gryphon202 on June 24, 2012 at 8:38 PM

A female student doesn’t need an RX for a parasol, I would hope. The albino has a perfect excuse to either wear a beeeeeeg straw hat or carry a parasol.

Sekhmet on June 24, 2012 at 9:27 PM

A female student doesn’t need an RX for a parasol, I would hope. The albino has a perfect excuse to either wear a beeeeeeg straw hat or carry a parasol.

Sekhmet on June 24, 2012 at 9:27 PM

I’m not completely convinced that the parents don’t share in some of the responsibility from this. My assertion is that someone screwed up. Probably everyone involved.

gryphon202 on June 24, 2012 at 10:18 PM

Oh, please. California lawmakers care about the children way more than you do. In any case, it’s George W. Bush’s fault.

J.E. Dyer on June 25, 2012 at 11:50 AM

…I’ll bet the teacher didn’t get sunburned!

RoadRunner on June 24, 2012 at 3:22 PM

Great observation.

meep meep!

Laura in Maryland on June 25, 2012 at 12:44 PM

If the kids aren’t allowed sunscreen, why are they allowed outside for that long in June?

Laura in Maryland on June 25, 2012 at 12:45 PM

As a Scoutmaster of a Troop of 11-17 year old boys we buy sunscreen and encourage the scouts to use it regularly. With a pre-teen or teen you have to be vigilant to make sure they reapply sunscreen a couple of times a day when you are out on an outing. I’ve never had a scout have a reaction to sunscreen though I’m sure there are some out there who are. Pre-teens and teens don’t think like adults, as the adults teachers or Scout leaders need to think ahead and remind their charges that they need to use sunscreen or bug spray and on overnight outings to brush their teeth and when available take showers. They won’t do it on their own until they are 15 or 16.

The main allergy issue we’ve had to deal with has been peanut allergies. I have two scouts with peanut allergies in the troop today, when we do have peanut butter products available we have those scouts get their food before the peanut butter comes out. I haven’t had to outlaw peanuts from the menu to accommodate these two scouts and we’ve never had an allergic reaction on an outing.

Sparky on June 25, 2012 at 1:06 PM

Wait, its possible to get a sunburn in Washington state?

agmartin on June 25, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Believe it or not, the sun does occasionally shine in Washington State, even on the west side of the mountains. We’re all the less prepared for it because it’s so unusual before late June, but we had a hot spell this May with temps into the high 80s and no rain for weeks. Then, you have days like yesterday: bright blazing sun, followed by torrential downpours, followed by bright sun again. Very odd, and those not accustomed to being in the sun might stay out too long because the air is fresh and cool.

chotii on June 25, 2012 at 10:17 PM

1. A responsible parent would have put it on the kid before they went on the trip. 2. A responsible parent would not have seen this as the job of the teacher, and slipped it into a plastic bag so the kids could put it on their tender spots in secret in the bathroom. Kids are competent if they already use sunscreen, they know where it goes. 3. The State of CA may soon fall into the Ocean and purge us of this problem? Those people are very very sick out there, anti freedom micro managers and litigators. 4. I wonder if these children were not wearing enough clothes, maybe they could use a dress code for outdoor activities, sun sensitive kids can buy special lightweight clothing that prevents sunburn.

Another solution is to be the mom that goes on the field trip and put it on your own kids when they need it. I am sure parents don’t get to go on CA field trips because then you might know which kids are the ones you don’t want your kids hanging around, and that would be unfair.

Fleuries on June 26, 2012 at 7:28 AM

I did not mention that two of my many children are allergic to cheap sunscreens, and I would not want the TEACHER in charge of putting it on them. It is not complete lunacy, there is lanolin, alcohol and other irritants in some sunscreens, and one of the kids couldn’t use the old ingredient PABA. We invest in Neutragena and Aveeno.

Fleuries on June 26, 2012 at 7:33 AM