As much as I am saddened about the burns, I realize my deepest concerns revolve around everything but the sunburns.
Let me back up a bit and share what I experienced yesterday: after seeing the kids upon returning home from work, I immediately went to the school to speak with the principal. Her response centered around the the school inability to administer what they considered a prescription/medication (sunscreen) for liability reasons. And while I can sort of wrap my brain around this in theory, the practice of a blanket policy which clearly allows for students to be put in harm’s way is deeply flawed. Not only does a parent have to take an unrealistic (an un-intuitive) step by visiting a doctor for a “prescription” for an over-the-counter product, children are not allowed to carry it on their person and apply as needed. Had my children gone to school slathered in sunscreen (which they did not, it was raining), by noon – when the sun came out – they would have needed to reapply anyway. Something as simple as as sun hat might seem to bypass the prescription issue to some extent. Alas, hats are not allowed at school, even on field day.
My children indicated that several adults commented on their burns at school, including staff and other parents. One of my children remarked that their teacher used sunscreen in her presence and that it was “just for her.” So, is this an issue of passive, inactive supervision? Where is the collective awareness for student safety? If they were getting stung by bees, teachers would remove them. Staff need to be awake to possible threats or safety issues and be able to take action. Prolonged sun exposure leads to burns: either put sunscreen on or, at the very least, remove the child from the sun. A simple call would have brought me to that school in minutes to assist my kids.
Common sense missing + fear of being sued = my kids pay the price. Not okay.
EDITED TO ADD: a friend just posted to my facebook page that it would cost her about $110 in a doctor’s visit to get the required prescription for sunscreen. Incredible.
Edited at 10:20 PM to add: Thank you for your comments of support and criticism. I will address the questions and concerns tomorrow. For now, I will turn off commenting and encourage you to contact me directly should you feel compelled to do so -
Edited to add an update for those of you with further questions: http://lifephotographed.com/2012/06/your-questions-about-our-story-answered/