Two Washington Sisters Receive Severe Sunburn at School Due to Sunscreen Ban
Two sisters in Washington state, ages 11 and 9, received sunburns while they were at school that were so severe that they had to be taken to the hospital by their mother to be treated. The two girls, Violet Michener and her sister Zoe, had been on a school fieldtrip during which they were in the sun for most of the afternoon. Although they were going to be outside in the sun, the two girls were not allowed to bring or use sunscreen on the field trip due to a school policy that bans students from using sunscreen at school.
The girl’s mother, Jesse Michener, said the day began with rain and clouds, so she didn’t apply sunscreen to the girls before they left the house. Due to the school’s ban on sunscreen, even if Jesse had applied sunscreen to the two girls before the left, they wouldn’t have been able to use it again while they were at the school that day.
“They couldn’t carry that in their backpacks,” said Jesse Michener. “They couldn’t even reapply sunscreen without a doctor’s note.”
The situation gets even worse when you add in the fact that the youngest girl, Zoe, has a form of albinism that makes both her skin and eyes extremely sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays. The children’s mother questioned the school district about the sunscreen ban and was told the policy had been put into place to protect students against possible allergic reactions by the sunscreen.
Dan Voelpel, a Tacoma School District spokesman said “Because so many additives in lotions and sunscreens cause allergic reaction in children, you have to really monitor that.”
The unfortunate sunburns on the two girls has parents and doctors wondering about the logic of outdoor school fieldtrips that involve long moments out in the sun. The students are also banned from wearing hats on school fieldtrips, as they are also banned at the school.
Dermatologist Dr. Doris Day said “I can’t see any justification for any school to tell a child that they are not allowed to apply sunscreen to protect themselves from the harmful UV rays that we know cause skin cancer. There’s just no reason for it.”
On an interesting note, the only state that allows sunscreen use at public schools without a doctor’s note is California. There are bans on sunscreen use in public schools in all other states. After the severe sunburns the two girls received, the Tacoma school district has said they will change its policy on sunscreen use in public schools.
The school district has issued an apology to the girl’s mother Jesse, and the state of Washington has changed its law to allow individual school districts within the state more freedom when it comes to laws about applying sunscreen in public schools.