Should schools prohibit certain substances, like sunscreen or nuts, based on the allergies of a minority of students? Is this typical nowadays?
The board of directors for our friend's preschool co-op has prohibited sunscreen due to one student's extreme allergy to it (they are concerned about liability should that student get seriously ill from another student's sunscreen). Parents may apply sunscreen to their children before school, but the preschool does not allow re-application throughout the day. I've heard about schools banning all nuts due to some children's peanut allergy, but was a bit surprised to hear about a school ban on sunscreen too. Is this common at other schools? Is this a trend for schools to ban substances due to the allergies of some students? Is it because these schools have to make accommodations for the students with allergies and would rather just remove the problem altogether? Prohibiting sunscreen seems to be taking things too far in my opinion, particularly since it is proven to help prevent skin cancer (policies against it seem to be solving short-term concerns while potentially causing long-term problems for the children). What do you know or think about this issue?
My daughter's preschool just banned hair barrettes because one child lost a few pieces of hair when they were playing it it got pulled out. I think this is just another example of companies reacting to an overly litigious society. We wind up banning common sense. On the other hand, if one student is deathly allergic to something I have no problem restricting my child's use of whatever it is in order to create a safe environment for the student. I think what your board of directors should have done though is to work with the child's parents to figure out which sunscreen brands the child wasn't allergic to and then told parents to buy those brands in order to accommodate the allergic child. That would meet everyone's needs.
The nuts I can understand b/c nut allergies can be extremely severe (to the point of being life-threatening). As for sunscreen, it's ridiculous to not allow for reapplication of one's own sunscreen, esp. for pre-schoolers who nap & subsequently rub off most of the sunscreen while lying down. Sunscreens are not meant to be applied once a day for the entire day, they are meant to be reapplied with continued sun exposure, sweating, rubbing, swimming, etc. I for one will have a fit if my child gets sunburned in the afternoon b/c of this rule. I have already complained to the school director & want to complain directly to the State Agency who has made this ruling, if I can ever find it (I'm in PA). My child also had extremely chapped hands during the winter (b/c he doesn't thoroughly dry his hands) & they aren't allowed to apply lotion either, even with my say-so...I would have to get a Dr note.
I am having the same issue with a school here in Flagstaff. They will not apply a sunscreen to the pre-k kids during school hours for the same reason. I find that crazy as if a kid has an allergy to sunscreen then why is it allowable to have the kids covered in it when they come to school! Would it not be an allergy issue as well? It is going too far especially if you are having the children play outside and be exposed to harmful UV rays. Most damage is done to people under the age of 20. This is going way too far in my book to protect a few children that are allergic to sunscreen and not protecting the majority out in the sun where they may pay for it in later years with melonoma.
Frankly, I would be LIVID if either of my children returned from school with a moderate to severe sunburn. I can't believe that's not child neglect/ endangerment!!
I'm sorry if a few children in a few schools have extreme allergies to sunscreens, but banning the rest of the children from using/reapplying sunscreen is not the answer! If I were the parent of a child with a sunscreen allergy, I would never expect everyone else's child to bake and suffer in the sun because of it. There has to be another workable solution. The allergic child(ren) will be exposed to sunscreen anyway when kids come to school with it already applied and several parents around the country start getting peditricians to sign orders to allow reapplication of sunscreen throughout the school day (I know I will be asking for one as my son enters Kindergarten).
I hope they come up with something else both for the sake of the kids with an allergy as well as rest of the kids who will risk long-term skin damage with this silly policy.
Many schools consider these types of items a form of medication and they are treated as such. Teachers at all levels are not allowed to apply any sunscreen, anti-itch, or antibiotic ointment on children in my state. The fear is a child will have an allergic reaction and that the school will be held liable against any litigation. Here, the teacher can be sued individually and is held totally responsible for the child's safety.
Nuts, particularly peanuts, are also prohibited in many schools as some children have severe allergic reactions to them. I no longer pack peanut butter crackers in my lunch or my child's lunch due to this fact.
Things are very different today in schools than they were just a few years ago. If the child is going on an extended outdoor activity, my advice is to have a family member go with the child on the activity/field trip so that they can apply sunscreen to the child as necessary. If the child is merely going out to play every day, I'd advise using a lotion with a built in sunscreen before dropping the child off at the preschool. It's not the best solution, but it's better than not using any sunscreen at all.
I speak as a certified teacher and mother who currently is a substitute teacher.