U.S. mom angry after kids sunburned during field day
Violet Michener is seen with a severe sunburn after returning came home from field day in Tacoma, Wash.
Published Monday, June 25, 2012 11:23AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 26, 2012 8:36AM EDT
A mom in Washington state is steaming mad after her two daughters were so badly sunburned during a school field day, they had to be taken to hospital.
Jesse Michener from Tacoma says her daughters, Violet, 11, and Zoe, 9, came home from school last Tuesday with severe sunburns after being outside for five hours during a day of outdoor sports activities.
The girls were not allowed to bring sunscreen to school for the event because of a school-board-wide policy that bans the creams, over fears of allergic reactions.
But Michener says the policy resulted in agonizingly painful burns for her daughters. She says when the girls got home, she brought them to hospital to be looked over by doctors and kept them home the next day because of their chills and fever.
Michener was particularly outraged because her daughter Zoe has very fair skin from a form of albinism. She said the school's staff are aware of her daughter's condition, but couldn't make an exception.
The school board says it has to ban sunscreen because it's state law.
As it turns out, all states except California do not allow kids to apply or bring sunscreens to school without a doctor's note, ABC News reports, because the creams are considered an over-the-counter drug.
Michener admits she didn't apply any sunscreen to her girls in the morning, because it was raining. But even if she had, it would have needed re-applying after a few hours anyway.
"They couldn't even reapply sunscreen without a doctor's note. They couldn't carry that in their backpacks," their mother Jesse told ABC.
She also couldn't try to protect her girls with sun hats because hats are not allowed at school, even on field days.
Tacoma Public School District spokesman Dan Voelpel said the district's policy forbids teachers from applying sunblock to their students for liability reasons.
"Because so many additives in lotions and sunscreens cause allergic reaction in children, you have to really monitor that," Voelpel said.
After Michener made her children's story public, she got a call from the director of Elementary Education in Tacoma Public Schools.
"He started by expressing his deep sympathy and regret that this had happened and stated clearly there had been a break in a system designed to protect kids," Michener wrote on her blog. "He understood and fully agreed with the restrictive and short-sided policy as it stands."
The director told her that a new law was passed on June 7 that allows school districts to decide their own sunscreen policies. He hoped there would be a new policy revision by October.